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Red Light Camera Tickets

If you have a red light camera ticket that requires you to appear in a Los Angeles County Superior Court, ignore it, shred it, thow it it in your waste basket, but do NOT contact the court. Requesting an extension is the WORST thing you can do.

Los Angeles Superior Courts recognize the fact that you have not signed a promise to appear and therefore they have no contractual nexus from which to proceed against you. If you ignore the ticket they will not report it to the DMV. They will turn it over to a collection agency and you will get a letter or two. Ignore them, too. This will not go on your credit report because you have not violated any contract (remember, you never signed a promise to appear).

For more, see this article.

The information on this page (except the parts about LA County above and snitch tickets below) is somewhat out of date. I have been waiting for the California Supreme Court to decide the Goldsmith case before updating this page. They have had the case since May of 2012. Yes, you read that right. They are taking longer on a red light camera case than on many murder cases. If you have an questions, feel free to email me.

Red light enforcement using cameras not only smacks of Big Brother, it also raises many legal and even Constitutional issues. The good news is that these tickets can be beaten.

The even more interesting news is that some of these "tickets" aren't even really tickets. If your "ticket" does not have the court address and/or tells you not to contact the court,you need to check out the information on fake/snitch "tickets" at highwayrobbery.net.

Since the government is not going to play fair on these tickets, why should you? Here is the tactical nuke to blow the case completely out of the court:

Your honor, I believe that if the people want to convict me of violating a signal, it is incumbent upon them to first establish that the signal was installed and operated according to the law. Indeed, this is their duty per Vehicle Code section 21455.5(c)(2)(C). Therefore, I request that (per People v Earnest (33 Cal.App.4th Supp. 18)) they produce originals or certified copies of all of the documentation required to install and operate a traffic control signal per Chapter 4 of the California 2003 Supplement of the Manual of Universal Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

This will require the officer to carry at least two binders full of certified documentation to court for each traffic signal, and the judge to spend about an hour reviewing the documentation before the trial can proceed.

Just in case the officer does bring the certified documents, you have the right to review and question the officer on each of them. This can easily take another few hours of the courts' time. As long as you keep your questions on point the judge has to allow them, or be overturned for denial of due process. (If even one half of 1% of the people who got these tickets would do this, the system would grind to a halt. They would not be able to afford to write these tickets. If you really want to fight back, this is the way to do it - take the profit out of the tickets for revenue scam.)

As a pre-emptive measure you can request all of the information under discovery. The form for this is on the Discovery page. The constructive notice in the form tells the DA that if he fails to comply, it will be deemed failure to prosecute. This means he can ship you two binders of documents or let you move to have the case dismissed. Hmmm...

If you still haven't convinced the judge to toss the case it's time to present a defense. We have used the following defense successfully (i.e., three cases dismissed in one afternoon).

Read through this defense thoroughly. Study it and understand it before you attempt to use it. The point of the defense is to get the judge to throw out the pictures and/or the officer's testimony, which will result in a dismissal. Do not be surprised or disappointed if you do not finish all of the questions. The idea is to get the case dismissed before you get to the end of this defense.

NOTE: You do not want to testify. Once you begin to testify you may be asked if you ran the light. Even if you plead the fifth, the judge can use that to justify a conviction.

Questions are bullet points. Arguments are in italics.

  • Were you at the scene of this alleged violation at the time it occurred?
  • So, you did not personally witness this alleged violation?
  • How do you have knowledge of this alleged violation?

    NOTE: The following part in red is out of date since the legislature redefined "operates".

  • Did you personally retrieve this photo from the camera?
  • What city or county department does the person who retrieved the photos work for?
  • Then, who does he/she work for?
    (If the person works for a private company)
    Your Honor, I move that the photos be disallowed as evidence.
    CVC 21455.5 reads in part: Only a governmental agency, in cooperation with a law enforcement agency, may operate an automated enforcement system.
    If a private company is retreiving the film, this system is being operated in violation of the law and the photos obtained using it are not admissible.
  • Is the person who retrieved the photos present in the court this morning?
  • Did you do the interpretation of the photos by yourself?
  • What training have you had in doing this interpretation?
  • Who else was involved in the interpretation of the photos?
  • What training does that person have in interpreting the photos?
  • Is that person present in the court this morning?
    Your honor, I would like to point out that Article I Section 15 of the California Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allow me to question my accusers. Neither the person who retrieved the alleged evidence, or the person who interpreted it are present for me to question.
  • What city or county department does the person doing the interpretation of the photos work for?
  • Then, who does he/she work for?
    (If the person works for a private company)
    Your Honor, I move that the photos be disallowed as evidence.
    CVC 21455.5 also says in subsection(b) paragraph(1):
    Notwithstanding Section 6253 of the Government Code, or any other provision of law, photographic records made by an automated enforcement system shall be confidential, and shall be made available only to governmental agencies and law enforcement agencies for the purposes of this article.
    If a private company is interpreting the photos, this system is obviously being operated in violation of the law and the photos obtained using it are not admissible.
  • Did the person doing the interpretation of the photos send you a report on this case?
  • Do you have a copy of this report with you?
    (If officer does not have the report.)
    Your honor, it is incumbent upon the people to present any substantial material evidence favorable to the accused. If I could rebut that report would that not be favorable to my case?
    (If officer has the report.)
  • Is it an original or certified copy of the report?
  • Are the photos original or certified copies?
    (If the report (and/or photos) is (are) not certified.)
    Not only is the person who did the interpretation not present, but the People have no original or certified copies of the report (and/or photos) alleging the violation which I could possibly use to rebut the argument presented. I would refer the Court to People v. Earnest (33 Cal.App.4th Supp. 18) which established the requirement of either the original or a certified copy of a document in a traffic case. In Earnest it was a Traffic Survey, but the same reasoning would hold for the report in this case.
    Since the officer is basing his testimony on uncertified documents, I move that it be ruled hearsay and disallowed.
    I move for a dismissal.
  • How does the company which operates the system get paid? Do they get any more money if the evidence results in a paid fine?
  • Has the system ever given incorrect evidence?
  • How many times has this happened?
  • Who can testify to that?
  • Is he/she present in the court this morning?
    Once again, your Honor, this goes to my ability to establish a defense.

Note: I have added the following part in green to take into account provisions included in other changes in the law when the Legislature redefined operates. These questions require some research on your part, and may be appropriate depending on what you find in your research.

  • What is the posted speed limit on the street as it approaches the light?
  • Is that speed limit justified by an engineering and traffic survey as defined in pages 51 through 54 of chapter 2B of the California 2003 Supplement of the Manual of Universal Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)?
  • And what is the required minimum timing for the yellow light given that approach speed as established by Table 4D-102 on page 27 of Chapter 4D of the California 2003 Supplement of the MUTCD?
  • And what is the actual yellow light timing?
  • Can you testify as to the circumstances at the time and place of this alleged violation?
  • Can you say beyond a reasonable doubt that there were no circumstances justifying the alleged violation for the sake of safety?
    Your Honor, in People v. Ausen (40 Cal.App.2d Supp. 831)the court held that they do not regard traffic signals as, "an absolute rule under all circumstances".
    CVC 21462 says: The driver of any vehicle, the person in charge of any animal, any pedestrian, and the motorman of any streetcar shall obey the instructions of any official traffic signal applicable to him and placed as provided by law, unless otherwise directed by a police or traffic officer or when it is necessary for the purpose of avoiding a collision or in case of other emergency, subject to the exemptions granted by Section 21055.
    The officer admitted that he/she cannot testify that it was not necessary for the sake of safety for me to run the light. The People's own witness, indeed their only witness, has admitted that -- not being present at the alleged violation -- he/she cannot meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
    I move for a dismissal your Honor.

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