Texas

You got a red-light camera ticket in the mail. Should you pay it? Here’s what we know

Frisco police chief explains why red light cameras work

Since installing red light cameras in 2013, the City of Frisco says it has seen a decrease in intersection and rear-ending collisions. The Frisco police chief says the main goal of the cameras is to reduce traffic accidents, because "it's a consci
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Since installing red light cameras in 2013, the City of Frisco says it has seen a decrease in intersection and rear-ending collisions. The Frisco police chief says the main goal of the cameras is to reduce traffic accidents, because "it's a consci

It comes in a white envelope.

And it clearly states what it is: “Automated Red Light Enforcement.”

Open it up and you’ll see the Notice of Traffic Violation statement and a picture of your car running a red light or not stopping long enough before turning right.

This violation comes with a $75 fine.

The question before many Texans: Do you pay the ticket?

Here are the facts:

These tickets are civil violations — unlike speeding, which is a criminal violation — and won’t show up on driving records.

Unpaid red light tickets won’t impact insurance rates.

And they won’t impact a credit record because they can’t be reported to a credit bureau.

“Failure to pay a camera ticket cannot go on your credit, cannot lead to an arrest, cannot go on your driving record (and) cannot go on your insurance,” according to the Trash Your Ticket website.

Here’s what can happen, though.

Some Texas counties, such as Dallas, will flag accounts with unpaid red-light tickets and prevent those vehicle registrations from being renewed until the tickets are paid.

That doesn’t happen everywhere, though.

In Tarrant County, for instance, online vehicle registration is likely to be blocked if there are unpaid red-light tickets. However, Tax Assessor-Collector Wendy Burgess has said anyone with a flagged account may go to any of the eight Tarrant tax assessor collector offices and renew their registration in person.

That won’t stop reminders of unpaid tickets from showing up in the mail, stating that a $25 late fee will be added to the bill.

“People are often intimidated into paying” the tickets, said Kelli Cook, a Willis woman who testified before lawmakers about a bill to turn off the cameras in Texas.

Several measures are pending in the Texas Legislature, including House Bill 1631, that would turn these cameras off.

And there’s a proposal, HB 901, that would prevent county and state officials from preventing drivers from renewing their registration because they have unpaid red-light tickets.

Lawmakers have until the session ends May 27 to pass any new laws.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.


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