Can I Still Get a Ticket from a Traffic Camera in New York?

Cameras are more ubiquitous around us than ever before. They’re in our pockets, on our doorbells, on opposite ends of our cars – it’s nearly impossible to avoid encountering one at all, whether we’re aware of it or not.

Before the latest iteration of tech put even more cameras around us, though, they were enforcing traffic laws. In places and at times when it was inconvenient for police officers to monitor traffic, cameras affixed to streetlights and roadsides enforced speed and red light violations.

Much fuss was made about these ever-enforcing eyes, and since then their use has been limited to a great deal. Note, though, that we said “limited” – because you can still get a red light or speeding ticket from a traffic ticket under certain circumstances.

Red Light Camera Tickets

Red light cameras are still legal in cities throughout New York with more than 1 million people. Clearly, New York City is among them. They’re usually easy to spot, being rather large and boxy – not like the cameras used to monitor traffic conditions, which don’t issue tickets.

You will probably get a red light ticket if you enter an intersection after the light has already turned red or if you have not left the intersection by the time it turns red. Once the camera goes off, the resulting picture will depict the vehicle, license plate, and even the driver.

Unfortunately, disputing these tickets is difficult – and not for the reasons you’d think. The obvious difficulty is the photographic evidence of your car (and sometimes you) in the middle of the intersection. The second problem is that who was driving doesn’t actually matter – a vehicle’s owner is liable for a red light traffic ticket in New York.

These tickets can be fought if your license plate was stolen and placed on another vehicle, but that’s a very unique situation. More likely defenses that can be used include that the license plate doesn’t match yours, you were in a life-or-death emergency, your vehicle malfunctioned, you were part of a funeral procession, there was another vehicle in the photo that triggered the camera, or if a technician’s certificate indicates a camera malfunction occurred.

Speeding Camera Tickets

Speeding cameras used to be in all sorts of places, but they are now only allowed in New York’s designated school zones. For the record, these zones are considered to include a quarter-mile radius around a school.

Right now, speeding cameras in designated school zones operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and only capture vehicles exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph. That may change, though, as new legislation proposes leaving the cameras on 24/7.

Traffic Camera Penalties

For both speeding and red light traffic cameras, the penalties are fairly light compared to what could happen if an officer issued the ticket. Those caught by these cameras are fined $50 (plus administrative fees) and incur zero points against their driving record, regardless of how many camera violations they get.

This means that getting a traffic camera ticket, no matter how annoying or inconvenient, would be preferable to getting pulled over by a police officer. The difference can be hundreds of dollars and points that count toward a license suspension!