One of the most common questions any California traffic attorney gets is, “Can I ignore a red light camera ticket that I received in the mail?”
Many attorneys say that you can ignore them and suffer little to no consequence. But some contend that a recent California Supreme Court red-light camera ruling in People v. Goldsmith changes that. The consequences of ignoring a red light camera ticket may depend on which city you were in when you were caught running the red light.
If you run a red light in Los Angeles County—you’ll know because you’ll get a ticket directing you to a branch of the L.A. Superior Court, you will technically be on the hook for $300, even if you ignore your red-light camera ticket. There will also be a red flag with your name on at the court to which your ticket has been assigned indicating a “failure to appear.”
This, however, is generally not a binding “failure to appear” that will result in a warrant for an arrest or affect your DMV records. The only time it is likely to come up is if you get a ticket issued by an actual officer, which directs you to the exact same court as the red light camera ticket on file.
Even if it does come up, you may be able to get the fine dismissed. Judges almost always dismiss the $300 fine. But they will likely make you address the red-light camera ticket by pleading guilty, no contest, not guilty and fight it at a later date, or traffic school.
The DMV in Los Angeles will not put a hold on your license or the registration of the owner of the vehicle since the driver who ran the red light is not always the same person as the owner of the vehicle.
But if you are thinking of ignoring any other ticket, think again. If you get almost any other moving-violation ticket from an officer and you don’t pay the fine or go to court, you’ll get in trouble on two levels. The court will ultimately report it to the DMV as a conviction for a moving violation. The DMV will then likely suspend your license or the court may slap you with an actual warrant for failing to appear.
Ignoring a red light camera ticket is risky and not always advisable. In many cities, you cannot ignore a ticket and they are treated just like other moving violations. Rather, contact an experienced California traffic ticket attorney can help you get the ticket dismissed.