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Lights Out for LA’s Red Light Camera Program

ALPERN AT LARGE - The good news is that the LA City Council, upon learning that the courts weren’t aggressively enforcing red light camera tickets, voted 13-0 to end that oft-debated and maligned program. (Link)

The bad news is that because the courts and collection agencies aren’t aggressively going after the mailed ticket fines, those who actually paid feel like chumps because there are no apparent immediate consequences for ignoring the tickets.

The good news is that the LA City Council, upon learning that the Superior Court system does not send the tickets on to the Department of Motor Vehicles to put a hold on a new driver's license and/or registration renewals, voted 13-0 to end the divisive and problematic red light program.

The bad news is that the City Council is now divided on what to tell the nearly 65,000 motorists who were photographed running a red light, but who chose not to pay the $480 fine. (Link)

The good news is that the LA City Council, upon learning that the Superior Court system has discretion under state law to deprioritize collection and enforcement of those fines because the person receiving the mailed ticket may not be the person who ran the red light, voted 13-0 to end the controversial and debatable red light program.

The bad news is that the fines, for which the city receives $157, the county gets $77 and the state gets $246, are still outstanding and will “pop up” in a big way should those who ignored them require a visit to the courts for another reason (computers don’t forget), and should cash-strapped governments go after that money.

The good news is that the LA City Council, upon learning that the courts might seek payments via collection agencies but that nonpayment will not show up on personal credit reports, voted 13-0 to end the contentious and dubious red light camera program.

The bad news is that the unpaid tickets shows up in court files as a failure to appear and could have dramatic consequences to those applying for jobs if their employers have access to court records.

The good news is that the LA City Council, upon learning of the Superior Court’s lack of enforcement of the mailed tickets from red light cameras, voted 13-0 to end the doubtful and disputable red light camera program.

The bad news is that questions still abound among Councilmembers as to if or when to terminate the City’s contract with American Traffic Solutions (which manages the tickets generated by the cameras) or what to do about the outstanding tickets (perhaps numbering up to about 40% of those who have received them).

So no matter how it’s worded, the City Council has, because of the current Superior Court policies and related legal issues surrounding the red light camera program, unanimously voted to kill the red light camera program for now.  

But the cameras aren’t going away, the uncollected fines aren’t going away, the financial and legal consequences of not paying those tickets are ABSOLUTELY not going away, and both the confusion and anger of those who dutifully paid their very expensive tickets aren’t going away.

And the one thing that we can all (hopefully) agree upon is that yellow lights (which might be prolonged after this camera debacle) still mean “slow down to stop”, and red lights at a traffic intersection still mean that you MUST STOP.

After all, the need to obey the rules of the road still very much has the green light in a society that values proper safety and traffic flow in the City of the Angels.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) and is both co-chair of the MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and past co-chair of the MVCC Planning Committee.  He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and also chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)   Photo credit: LA Times       -cw

Tags: Red Light Camera, City Council, Los Angeles, Department of Motor Vehicles, traffic tickets, court records, American Traffic Solutions, Superior Court




CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 60
Pub: July 29, 2011  

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