Will My Auto Insurance Rates Go Up If I Get a Red Light Camera Ticket?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

In most jurisdictions, running a red light is treated as a traffic violation on par with driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. As such, it's punishable by a sizable fine. If you receive a ticket for running a red light from a patrol officer, it's best simply to pay the fine and accept that your insurance rates will go up.

You have only a slim chance of overturning your "conviction" in court unless you can find a witness whose testimony directly contravenes that of the police officer who issued your ticket. Since your traffic court judge probably won't give weight to testimony from passengers in your car, this is likely to prove impossible. If the intersection at which you received the ticket featured a traffic camera, you may have a better chance of persuading the judge to vacate your conviction. A camera set up to record both the traffic light and the intersection itself in the same frame may actually prove that you didn't run the light.

However, these traffic cameras may also work against you. If you received your ticket by mail several days or weeks after allegedly running the light, it's likely that your license plate was captured by a motion-sensing or video-enabled camera at the intersection. Depending upon the traffic laws in your jurisdiction, you'll be responsible for any fine assessed as a result of your alleged infraction and may face other repercussions as well.

In most states, camera-issued traffic citations are treated differently than officer-issued citations. In New York State, an officer-issued red light violation adds three points to the offending driver's license and costs a minimum of $50. A second violation may cost up to $200 and a third violation may cost as much as $400. In New York City, these respective penalties increase to $100, $500 and $1,000.

New York State's traffic laws treat camera-issued red light violations more leniently. The fine for any such violation is just $50. In addition, camera-issued citations received anywhere in New York State are worth zero license points. As such, these violations are not reported as "insurance events" and can't cause insurance premiums to rise.

Although there are some exceptions to this rule, this is the case in most states. If you're unsure about the laws regarding fines and point values for camera-issued violations in your area, check your state department of transportation's website.

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