Bjorn Free left Dallas for a 10 day photo safari. While on his African adventure, Bjorn’s 20-year-old son, recently back from college and in need of a place to stay, agrees to house sit. Upon his return and after getting rid of some serious jetlag, Bjorn goes through his giant pile of mail. Hidden among the 73 catalogs and assorted bills, Bjorn opens a letter which contains a traffic citation for $75 for running a red light. Apparently, the offense was caught by a red light traffic camera, and occurred while Bjorn was in Kenya and while Bjorn’s son was driving dad’s car. Bjorn contests the ticket on the grounds that a police officer must be present in order to write a ticket and that he wasn’t even driving the car. Will he win?
Not likely. Texas has historically ranked very high when it comes to the number of red-light fatality accidents. Accordingly, legislation was passed establishing procedures permitting municipalities to use cameras to cite owners of vehicles that illegally run red lights. For the uninitiated, a red light camera system is connected to a traffic signal and to sensors that monitor traffic flow at the intersection. The system monitors the intersection signal 24/7 and photos are taken of any vehicle entering the intersection after the signal has turned red. A ticket is then generated and sent to the vehicle’s owner. The bad news for Bjorn is that no police officer is needed to write the ticket and the owner, not the driver, of the vehicle may be ticketed for not more than $75. The good news for Bjorn is that this offense is not a moving violation and will not be reported to his insurance company. More good news – intersections monitored by red light cameras must have signage warning of their use and Texas has, so far, resisted the use of cameras to issue citations for speeding violations.
Titling The Scales In Your Favor
Vehicle owners can contest fines for running red lights in an administrative hearing. A person found liable at an administrative hearing may then appeal the finding to a municipal court. Also, exceptions exist if the offending vehicle was being test driven, had been sold or stolen.