Can This Simple Letter Get You Out of Paying a Red-Light or Speeding Camera Ticket?

"You can swear and affirm it wasn't you -- that's simple. You don't have to rat somebody else out," Carter says.

Ratting out friends and family is something prosecutors offer to people who want to stay out of prison, but that game doesn't fly with photo-enforced traffic tickets, Carter explains.

"Most all of the traffic violation camera systems are invalid or void on their face according to our appellate court, so it would be pretty hard for them to offer immunity for something you're already immune to, so it's mostly just a policy at this point: 'you tell us it wasn't you, we'll let you go,'" he says.

"I think they're hoping 60 percent of the population will just pay so they don't get in any more trouble because they don't know."

See also: Missouri Court Rules Ellisville Red Light Cameras Violate State Law

For people who get one of these tickets, Carter recommends writing a letter -- but only if you keep on top of it.

"If your hope specifically is that someone there will understand what the legal landscape is and they'll dismiss it, then yes, send a letter," Carter says. "But if your hope is to send a letter and never think of the ticket again, then absolutely not."

Instead, Carter says to write a letter, cite the recent ruling of the district courts -- it doesn't have to be expertly-written, just something that explains photo-enforced camera tickets are still questionable, and follow-up until an answer is given.

"Send the letter, send it by certified mail and by snail mail, send it by email if you can, then call back in about 10 days to see if they've dismissed it," Carter says.

"But by no means in any way, shape or form, do you ignore the demands of that court for you to show up there."

There might be some confusion over the legality of photo-enforced traffic tickets, but not over arrest warrants for people who got a ticket but didn't show up to court.

"You don't want to get arrested while dropping your kids off at the skating rink," Carter says.

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.

My Voice Nation Help
33 comments
g.imperial
g.imperial

So what if the photos comes from a police officer's dash cam?

asthmatictriathlete
asthmatictriathlete

Received ticket on 01/2014. Sent the above letter (updated w my information, of course). It is now 03/2014 - I received a letter which declares I am liable to pay the $100 penalty.

paintinblue2013
paintinblue2013

I can prove the camera is faulty.. and whats the point of a defense attorney like this guy who is obviously against the good of the public?   

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

Or you could, you know...not speed or run a red light. Way less work.

Joe Bush
Joe Bush

We used to have them in Los Angeles, all have been removed except the following. I think the only places that have them in this area now is Beverly Hills and Culver city. The tickets are about $500 if you get one.

James Harris
James Harris

Tried it with a speeding ticket, does not work. Someone else was even driving my car that day. This was in Pine Lawn.

Donald Creswell
Donald Creswell

I absolutely despise all these light and speed cameras. But, is it really that difficult to come to a stop before you make your right turn? I find that coming to a stop at the intersection cuts down on confusion to everyone arriving at the stop sign or traffic signal at around the same time. person who stops first goes first. so i just stop, then I go. usually everyone else stops too. No confusion. No tickets. Magic. cheers.

Woody Atkinson
Woody Atkinson

I'm getting the same damn letters (and an occasional phone call). I ignore them. My question: why is the city using a law firm in Texas. Don't we have any lawyers in town??

Sj Braun
Sj Braun

sooner the better; get rid of them; no police states in our USA

Steve Dixon
Steve Dixon

Way to be simple minded. Should you stop at a red light? Of course. The problem with these cameras is that they incorrectly register a lot of the time. They give people tickets for making right turns on red and other problems. They also don't make the intersection safer. In fact, every study so far has shown that cameras make the intersections MORE dangerous.

Steve Dixon
Steve Dixon

Actually Brandon, pretty much every study has confirmed your suspicion. Red-light cameras make intersections more dangerous. Don't let any politician or policeman tell you otherwise. These are simply a cash-grab.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

I hang them on my refrigerator door, as if they were my children's art projects. SO cute.

Cindy Harvey
Cindy Harvey

I fought one I thought I stopped at for a right turn. The judge has the video. Take your checkbook.

Patrick Shaw
Patrick Shaw

I should note, I too was turning right on red.

Patrick Shaw
Patrick Shaw

44 and Grand got me, still haven't paid. That was 3 months ago, I have a court date in a couple weeks. We'll see how this turns out.

Brian Schaffer
Brian Schaffer

FYI the photo for this article isn't a red light camera. It is a traffic sensor. The cameras are usually mounted on poles behind traffic to capture the plate.

John P Cooper
John P Cooper

(From a Huffington Post article) One particularly corrupt practice aimed at increasing the incidence of red light violations (and fines) involves the shortening of yellow lights in intersections with red light cameras, despite the fact that reports show that lengthening the yellow lights serves to minimize accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, "a one second increase in yellow time results in 40 percent decrease in severe red light crashes." Indeed, those who claim to champion the use of red light cameras in the name of traffic safety are loath to consider reducing the length of yellow lights if it means losing significant citation revenue. An investigative report by a Tampa Bay news station revealed that in 2011, Florida officials conspired to reduce the length of yellow lights at key intersections below minimum federal recommendations in order to issue more citations and collect more fines via red light camera. By reducing the length of yellow lights by a mere half-second, Florida officials doubled the number of citations issued. Contrast that with what happened when the yellow light time was increased from 3 seconds to the minimum requirement of 4.3 seconds at one Florida intersection: traffic citations dropped by 90 percent.

John P Cooper
John P Cooper

Some communities have even been found guilty of shortening the yellow light time to catch more drivers.

Ann Mestres
Ann Mestres

I stopped for 2+ seconds and they sent me a ticket for $100. There was not a car in sight at any of the other points of the intersection. My break lights are on...

Brandon Herges
Brandon Herges

Does anybody else feel like red-light cameras almost make things MORE dangerous? There are some of us who will floor it to get through if it starts seeming like a yellow is coming because we don't want to be trapped in there at red, then others of us will slam on the brakes as soon as yellow is seen. It reeks of creating hazards by altering otherwise *expected* driving patterns, at least, to me.

Greg Grooms
Greg Grooms

Would the same defense work for parking tickets?

Chris Davis
Chris Davis

I think going and ignoring letters is fairly simple.

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

Ya know whats easier than that? Not running red lights.

John P Cooper
John P Cooper

Don't pay them, they cannot be enforced. I've been getting annoying letters from a law firm in San Antonio that StL has apparently contracted with to hassle people that have received these tickets. Mine were both for right turns on red without coming to a complete stop... in south St. Louis! We invented the rolling right turn on the south side!!!

12judges
12judges

I had a very interesting conversation with an attorney friend of mine regarding this issue. First, find an opponent of red-light cameras who has significant financial assets or can raise money politically. Second, advertise statewide (then maybe nationwide) heavily to convince people not to pay red-light fines. Third, combine all plaintiffs into a class action lawsuit with an understanding that defeat will result in plaintiffs’ fines being paid by the fundraising campaign.  Fourth, move the lawsuits up the legal chain to state and supremem court levels...force a constitutional ruling on the issue and watch as it doesn't mass muster.

Make the enforcement and burden of proof so onerous on cities, counties and states that they understand enforcement will mean a well-funded legal challenge every time. Obviously, this would require all plaintiffs to grow a backbone and stick with the plan, but it’s an interesting idea.

hchavezrey
hchavezrey

You were a school monitor weren't you Tony?  smh

awesomeparadise
awesomeparadise

Anyone used this letter in reply and got their tickets dismissed ?


Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...