Usually not a problem, unless….
There are over 200 red light cameras in New York City alone. When a light enters the red phase, the camera’s motion sensors flash a picture if they sense a vehicle passing over the intersection’s stop line or crosswalk.
After that happens, you can expect a notice in the mail from the Department of Finance, threatening you with a $50 fine.
You do have the right to fight a red light camera summons. Information on how to do so will be included with the fine notice you receive.
Do you need a lawyer for your red light camera ticket?
In general, we do not fight camera tickets, for one simple reason: Camera tickets do not carry points.
When my clients hire me, they almost always do so to fight tickets with points. Points can result in your license being suspended or revoked, can affect your ability to keep or attain employment, and can result in your insurance premiums increasing.
If you receive a ticket that could put points on your license, you should consider hiring a lawyer. But if you receive a ticket that doesn’t threaten points, it’s not a serious enough situations to merit paying an attorney.
Are there any exceptions to this?
Thanks for asking! Yes, there’s one exception: TLC red light camera tickets.
Whenever a Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) license plate receives a red light camera violation, the Department of Finance reports the matter to the TLC. The TLC then sends the driver the notice of violation, with the following options.
Option 1: Accept a settlement for no fine, but 3 points on your TLC license.
Option 2: Go to trial. If convicted, get 3 points and pay a fine of $300.
Both of these options are bad.
So if I’m a TLC driver and I get a red light camera ticket, what should I do?
But if you’re a TLC driver, you should choose to go to trial. These cases are not easy to win, but a settlement that results in 3 points on your record is not one worth taking.
A TLC red light camera trial is similar in some ways to a TVB trial: it’s all or nothing, guilty or not guilty. If guilty, you’ll get the aforementioned 3 TLC license points and owe $300. If not guilty, it’s no points and no fine. Post-COVID, these hearings take place via phone. At some point, I presume they’ll be in person again, but the TLC has not indicated when, or if, this will occur.
Should I hire an attorney for my TLC red light ticket?
The short answer is, yes. They carry 3 TLC license points. (Note that TLC license points do not equal DMV license points.) That’s worth fighting. As an attorney, I fight these regularly.
But I’ll be honest — they are tough to win. But we do win them sometimes. If the TLC doesn’t have its ducks in a row, there are legal arguments we can make to get the tickets dismissed.
There’s no reason for the driver to attend or testify. What are you going to say, really, in defense of a photo that shows your TLC license running a red light? The way to fight these things is in the details, and on procedural complications. I’ve won many of them, but they’re not easy.