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Can You Ignore LAPD's Automated Photo Red Light Tickets?

When red light cameras appeared on the traffic scene in Los Angeles several years ago, drivers across the county inwardly groaned. The cameras photograph vehicles that enter an intersection against the red light, and typically issue a ticket. In California, a red light ticket can run upwards of $300. However, recent reports claim that red light tickets issued in Los Angeles County can be ignored with no consequence - is this true?

Partially. In 2011, The Los Angeles Police Commission decided to discontinue the LAPD's Automated Photo Red Light Program (APRLP), which deactivated all enforcement cameras and halted the issuance of citations for new violations. The plan was to implement a phase out plan for the cameras that granted the Department access to the APRLP database, which contained video evidence of violations. In March 2012, the phase out portion was terminated and all access to video evidence was lost. Thus, the LAPD requested the dismissal of all pending and outstanding photo red light traffic citations issued by the LAPD.

However, the dismantled APRLP applied to the city of Los Angeles - not all cities within the county. Tickets still are issued in various municipalities across Los Angeles County. A red light ticket issued in this scenario that asks the respondent to respond to an L.A. County Superior Court Branch can still technically be ignored. The recipient is responsible for $300 if they choose to ignore the ticket, however it is not a binding failure to appear charge that affects DMV records. In fact, the only way the issue would arise if an individual receives an officer-issued ticket that sends them to the exact court that has that same individual's red-light camera ticket on file.

Legislation introduced in March 2015 called for the prohibition of installation of new red light cameras anywhere in California, citing safety studies that point to possible hazards associated with red light cameras. According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association ten states currently prohibit the use of red light cameras.

While running red lights is a hazardous driving practice and should be curtailed, red light cameras may not be the answer. Likewise, ignoring a ticket is equally inadvisable and should not be encouraged. However, when there is little legal consequence attached with doing so, drivers will continue to ignore these tickets, calling their usefulness into question.

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