GUIDANCE FOR USING RED LIGHT CAMERAS
Federal Highway AdministrationNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration
March 20, 2003
LIST OF TABLES
RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION
The initiation of a red light camera program necessitates the identification of appropriate legal requirements. Red light cameras pose a series of legal questions and concerns, the answers to which may vary from State to State. In particular, concerns and issues related to privacy, citation distribution, and types of penalties need to be thoroughly addressed and resolved prior to the startup of a red light camera program.
At the present time, there are two approaches that have been adopted by States in the deployment and operation of red light camera systems:
· Driver Responsibility. Where law enforcement alleges a driver has committed a violation and receives a citation, there should be photographic evidence that allows the driver to be identified. This requires that one or more red light camera(s) is/are located so that a frontal view of the vehicle is recorded as it runs the red light. Further, the recorded view should allow the driver and vehicle identities to be clearly determined. If the recorded view of a driver is obstructed or not clear, no citation should be issued. Additionally, a method should be provided through which the registered owner can certify that he or she was not the driver at the time of the violation.
In States where red light cameras are applied as described above, red light running violations recorded by red light cameras are considered to be moving violations with citations carrying the same penalties as citations as those issued by law enforcement officers, including "points" and holds on vehicle registration or driver license renewals for unpaid fines.
· Registered Owner Responsibility. Where the registered owner is responsible for the citation, only photographic evidence that identifies the vehicle and its license number is required. Typically, States where red light cameras have been adopted in this manner have enacted legislation at the state level that authorizes the use of red light cameras or permits local agencies to enact local ordinances for use of red light camera systems.
It is important that privacy concerns be addressed through public education campaigns prior to and during implementation of a red light camera campaign.
The NCUTLO developed the "Automated Traffic Law Enforcement Model Law." (20) This model offers clear guidance to States considering automated enforcement technology and covers many of the issues outlined here. The model law imposes only a civil fine for red light violations using red light camera systems, similar to laws typically used for the enforcement of parking violations. Thus, red light violations resulting from red light cameras are not recorded in drivers' licensing files for point assessment, other sanctions, or licensing action. Any attempt to unfavorably influence persons' driving privileges using this system could raise due process concerns.
Issues arising from legal challenges to automated photo enforcement are presented in Appendix A.