Maybe you started to go through the light when it was yellow, or maybe you made a right turn on a red and got your photo taken. You think nothing of it, but a few weeks later you get a letter in the mail saying you owe the city of Baton Rouge $117, a cost comparable to getting a speeding ticket. If you are a repeat red-light-runner, the fine increases by $50 with each offense.
Since 2008, 25 cameras were installed around East Baton Rouge at 17 intersections. The ultimate goal, according to officials, is to change driver behavior and make intersections safer for motorists. However, data suggests the number of crashes at intersections has actually increased since the program has been implemented. The data which the city is using to back its claim of safer intersections is from other states and nearly 10 years old.
Many people have suggested the cameras are more about making money for the city-parish. At least one lawmaker has suggested the cameras are a violation of your constitutional rights and is proposing they be outlawed. Another has suggested that if fewer and fewer of the tickets are paid, the program may end.
Of the more than 400,000 red light tickets have been mailed out to drivers, some of these tickets have been sent out to the wrong vehicle owner or are associated with the wrong vehicle. Others were sent to drivers who, after a review of the video, did not even run the light or were making a legal turn on red.
About half of those tickets have gone unpaid, and there is not much the city can do about it. Failure to pay the fine does not affect your driving record. The ticket is not reported to your auto insurance company or credit monitoring sites at this time, and is not filed in police databases. Your car will not be booted or towed because you tossed the notice into the trash. There is absolutely no punishment for not paying these tickets, other than the city having a collections law firm send you a letter.
If you get a notice in the mail to pay a fine for running a red light from one of these cameras, it is up to you whether or not you want to pay it, but there will likely be no impact on you if you simply ignore it.
Written By: Katherine Gouner