Red Light Cameras-Should You Pay the Ticket?

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You are approaching an intersection. Traffic is moving, but it’s bumper to bumper. Any sudden breaking and the front end of the car behind you is in your car’s trunk. The light changes to yellow. Then you see it out of the corner of your eye. Encased in a big, bulky silver box, it is looming like a vulture over the intersection. The red light camera. You wince as you sail though intersection. Did it get you? Was that a flash or just the sunlight reflecting off of the dash?

This happened to me a few months ago. The camera got me and a month later came the $75 ticket in the mail.

Do red light cameras improve safety? Are red light cameras a rear-end-collision-causing revenue grab by municipalities? Are red light cameras even legal? I’m not going to answer those questions. What I am going to answer is what you really want to know–do you really have to pay red light camera tickets?

A quick caveat before I start. My discussion of whether you should file your ticket under “bills to be paid” or in the trash is restricted to Texas law.

The good news…

Here’s the good news. Under Section 707 of the Texas Transportation Code, if you don’t pay your red light camera ticket:

  • no conviction;
  • no arrest warrant;
  • not on your driving record;
  • not reported to your insurance; and
  • can’t be reported to the credit bureaus (i.e., can’t affect your credit score).

Ready to trash your ticket? Not so fast.

And the bad news (maybe)…

You knew there had to be a catch.

While the failure to pay a red light camera ticket can’t be reported to the credit bureaus, it can be sent to a collections agency. We all know persistent collection agencies are in collecting a debt.

In addition, a “scofflaw hold” is placed on your vehicle’s registration. What does this mean? Your local county could refuse to renew your vehicle’s registration until the unpaid ticket plus penalties are paid. The key word here is “could.” Not every county in Texas is placing holds on vehicle registrations for unpaid red light camera tickets. Even counties that claim they are placing scofflaw holds on vehicle registrations may not do so in every case (e.g., enforce the hold if you are renewing your registration online, but not when you do so in person).

For my neighbors, Dallas County is placing holds on vehicle registrations for unpaid red light camera tickets.

Good news for the folks in Fort Worth and Arlington, Tarrant County does not block vehicle registration for unpaid red light camera fines.

So should you pay the ticket?

That’s for you to decide, based on your tolerance for persistent debt collection calls and whether a hold is going to be placed on your vehicle registration.

What did I do? I paid the ticket. Eighteen years of Catholic school have made me a rule follower to the core. Also, I have zero tolerance for debt collection calls. Believe it or not but there is another “Siobhan Fitzpatrick” living in the Dallas area. She tends to not pay her Home Depot credit card bills and her DeVry University tuition. Every time these bills get flipped to a new collection agency, I start getting calls.

Have you ever gotten a red light camera ticket? Did you pay it? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Disclaimer: This website is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Copyright © 2017-2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

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