Red Light Cameras No Longer Recording

RED LIGHT CAMERAS NO LONGER RECORDING As of 10 this morning, all 70 traffic-intersection cameras have been turned off. Proposition 3, which would have allowed the cameras to continue to snap photos of red-light runners, was defeated by Houston voters 2 weeks ago. “City officials said they have $25 million in uncollected fines from citations that were issued. [Mayor] Parker said the city plans to aggressively go after those violators. City officials have not said when the cameras will be removed from the intersections.” [Click2Houston]

45 Comment

  • USA! USA! USA!

  • When I got cited for running a red light, I wrote a letter to then Mayor White expressing my concerns with the red light camera program and his interpretation of the law.

    I also stated in the letter that if the red light cameras were found to be unlawful, or if the program is terminated for any reason, I would demand a full refund of my fine, and noted that his reply to my letter, should he wish to so reply, would be deemed (i) consent to any such refund, and (ii) agreement that said refund would be promptly issued.

    Mayor White replied to my letter, albeit in a typical boilerplate fashion.

    So, I ask, when I should expect to receive my refund?

  • City of Houston, half past never?

  • RP, you never mentioned whether you ran the light or not …

  • I would be OK with them staying if they also took a picture of the driver to prove who was driving.

  • Houston sucks. I see people running red lights here more than anywhere else I’ve lived, and I’ve almost been run over on my bike multiple times. All in the name of “freedom” I guess?

  • Ive gotten busted by them for coasting through a right-turn while the light was red instead of stopping first.

    While I was indignant and furious when I got the ticket in the mail, the deed had been done and a URL included with the letter took me to a website that let me watch a video of me coasting through the light. It clearly showed my license plate as well as the light being red. So unless your car is stolen and the thief is a bad driver, there’s not question of what/when/where you violated the law.

    I think the voters took an emotional response to this proposition instead of a logical one. The cameras busted people who were clearly breaking the law, raised revenue for the city and were in operation 24/7/365 doing something cops usually only stomach for a few hours at a time once in a blue moon. Now, instead, we get people brazenly running lights and budget shortfalls. The electorate has spoken.

    Can you imagine if someone ran a red light and t-boned you? The world’s greatest irrefutable witness is now out of a job.

  • So unless your car is stolen and the thief is a bad driver, there’s not question of what/when/where you violated the law
    Wrong. Families share cars all the time. People borrow cars all the time. Dealerships and garages lend cars to their customers, etc. License plates are not tied to a person, they are tied to a vehicle. Sending me a picture of my license plate in the mail is not anywhere near proof that I ran a red light.

  • @Random Poster –

    You shouldn’t. The cameras were not found to be unlawful. Voters simply voted to discontinue the program. Big difference.

  • @jgriff

    If I loaned the car to my son and got the ticket in the mail for 10:45pm on a Friday, it would be time for a little chat. Same applies if I ran a business and had a commercial fleet.

  • @ Heights Guy:

    The program has been terminated. My demand for a refund remains.

  • @ Jimbo:

    I don’t believe that I did. And the alleged video that claimed to show my car going through the light never worked for me, as I never could get the video to load.

  • The income to the City was a little like crack, a few hits and you want/need more (dollars from the people that is). Just another $10 million to add to the White budget shortfall. Can’t blame the company for all their ad spending to protect the goose. Perhaps if the city could get their cop out from behind the counter of my local convenience store he could write tickets again.

  • Growing up in Canada as a kid, these cameras were all over the place in the 80s. They were called multanovas and were mobile so the cops could set them up literally anywhere at any time. I never got picked up by one up there, nor have I ever been picked up by one here.
    I voted to have them removed for one reason. I personally dont mind having them up at intersections where they take a photo of the red light runners. That part makes perfect sense. For me, it was when the cameras started to send tickets out for the drifters making a rolling right turn on red. Cops do that all the time, its not a huge safety issue (yeah, like the vacant streets of San Felipe at 8am Sunday morning are dangerous). The cameras started as blatant red light runners then it migrated to the right turn drifters. My vote wasn’t against the red light cameras per se, it was more a vote against the police or city altering their use of the device from what it was originally planned.

  • So do i have to stop for red lights now?

  • RP, could you send me your mailing address. I will then send you a letter stating that if you reply I will consider that as agreement by you that you owe me $1M. I will add that if you don’t reply I will consider that as agreement that you owe me $1M.

    Just because you write it in a letter does not make it a legally binding agreement. Without specific verbal or written agreement with the terms your verbal semantics are worthless.

  • If I loaned the car to my son and got the ticket in the mail for 10:45pm on a Friday, it would be time for a little chat. Same applies if I ran a business and had a commercial fleet.

    Yes, it would be time for a little chat. That doesn’t change the fact that you would be responsible for the ticket even though someone else had broken the law.

  • Years ago, I was caught speeding in DC by an automated camera. The ticket was sent to my parents, since I was driving their car. Along with the ticket was a form that I had to fill out (and notarize), saying that I was driving and not my parents. I paid the fine, it went on my record, and my parents were cleared. What’s so hard about doing that here? If a ticket arrived in my mailbox with proof my car did something wrong, I sure would be motivated to find the person who was driving it at the time!

  • What the city really needs to install are cameras that catch drivers being douchebags — cutting you off on the freeway, turning from the wrong lane, not yielding to bicyclists. Eighty percent of Houston drivers would be ticketed! Imagine the revenue!

  • Random Poster and everyone else who got a ticket gets a refund.

    These cameras should have been voted on in the 1st place, before they were ever installed. It was a money-making scheme from day one.

  • By that rationale mark any punishment that results in a fine could be deemed a money-making scheme. Perhaps we should abolish all financial penalties for crimes and replace them with custodial sentences. Would that be preferable? Or are you just proposing that we do away with punishments for crimes that you would really rather be allowed to get away with?

  • Along with the ticket was a form that I had to fill out (and notarize), saying that I was driving and not my parents.

    Your parents are lucky that you were honest enough to own up to it. If you weren’t they would still be liable for it. I don’t want my guilt of a crime to be decided by a machine that makes no effort to do so reliably. If they can get a picture of the face of the person that was driving and make a reasonable determination of their identity then I wouldn’t be against it. I just don’t understand how they got away with assuming that since the car is registered to you that you must be liable for laws that are broken in it. If I loan you a shirt am I liable for laws you break while wearing it?

  • I recieved a red light camera ticket in July and threw away the letter. The ticket is a civil offense so they turn your name over to a collection agency. The collection agency threatens to put a stop/hold on your car registration with the state of Texas. No such thing, the counties issue registration tags.
    This was about MONEY, not safety. If these intersections are so dangerous than station police officers there to write tickets.

  • I agree Joe. In fact I think we should do away with all crimes unless the chances of killing someone is greater than a pre-ordained probability. And if you happen to be the poor sod t-boned by a Navigator on a mission well, thats just statistics innit.

  • The flash at the Post Oak and San Felipe exits make me feel the need to slam the breaks or swerve everytime. Even when I’ve gone through the green light, when it turns red and that flash goes off I always think a cop, ambulance of fire truck is hauling up behind me. Not the greatest thing, especially at night.

  • @Jimbo wrote,
    “In fact I think we should do away with all crimes”

    Yeah far out man lets just do away with all crime. My point is if the intersections are so dangerous then it is worth the cost to have police officers there to write tickets. I would support that action 100%. The city only wanted the revenue.

  • @ Pax McKatz:

    I agree. Particularly in December and January, when it gets dark relatively early, you can be well on your way to turning onto the 610 access road and suddenly get blinded in your rearview mirror by the flash of the camera going off. It is exceptionally disorienting, and quite the safety hazard.

  • What’s wrong with the city making money on people that break the law? It happens all the time when a cop gives someone a ticket in person.

    For all of you jumping up and down and pumping your fist in victory – hopefully you will never know what it is like to be T-boned in an intersection by someone that ran a red light. From personal experience, it’s not fun. At least the red light cameras cut down on those blatently running the light.

  • I am not convinced by jgriff’s sharing/entrusting cars argument as reason for getting rid of the cameras. The owner of a car has the ultimate say in who drives the car- whether that be your friend whose car is in the shop, your teenage child or any other person. You, as registered owner, should be responsible for the car absent it being stolen or used without your permission. It goes well beyond the realm of tickets. If you lend your car to someone and that person driving your car were to injure someone while driving, you could be sued for negligent entrustment. With regard to the comment about car dealerships/rental places–these places generally make you sign paperwork that keep you (as the person loaning or renting the car) responsible for tickets, accidents, etc. and hold them harmless from any such damages.

  • Why would you need a photo of whoever is driving your car IF you already know WHO it is? Denial much? If you loan out your car and don’t know who it’s loaned to, well, maybe that explains it.

    I simply don’t loan mine to anyone except family and then, believe me if someone ran a light and I received the ticket in the mail, that person would be paying the ticket. From what I understand, the camera tickets don’t go on the driving record.

    Don’t run red lights and you don’t have to worry about it.

    But then, there’ll always be folks who think the laws don’t apply to them.

  • I voted against it because of the way it’s managed. my perception is that the big winner is the company that manages the program – and that seems wrong. I’m glad the program is being dismantled.

    As a side note, can we fine police officers who text will driving? I’ve seen three just this weekend….patrolling the streets, reading/texting away on their mobile device. That seems a lot more dangerous to me.

  • @ Extrovert:

    “What’s wrong with the city making money on people that break the law?”

    Nothing, provided that the Constitution is followed in creating and enforcing the law.

    “It happens all the time when a cop gives someone a ticket in person.”

    The right to confront one’s accuser is an element that is sorely lacking in the red light camera program. Not so much when it comes to an in-person ticket.

  • I WAS t-boned by a red-light runner.

    If I’d had a passenger, they may have been killed. The car was totalled, and the perpetrator abandoned his car and fled the intersection on foot, screwdriver in hand.

    The three ticket-fixer lawyer brothers who underwrote this effort (vs. ER, EMS, and public-safety pros) thank you for increasing their revenue stream, if you were STUPID enough to vote-out a program that punished scofflaws. Hide behind sad “constitutional concerns” (bunk) or your mistrust of government if you must, but I’ll go with LEGIT public safety professionals who strongly supported this policy on life-saving grounds.
    I guess if you like to run lights (or “roll” them on right turns, also scofflaw practice), then you won.
    Congrats, stupid.
    I HATE people who run red lights, with good reason. Thanks for removing a disincentive to do so, fools, (and thanks from the Kubosh Bros. who are laughing all the way to the bank).

  • We can now save them and use them for driving while texting. Much better use of the cameras anyway. You know the company is going to sue the hell out of the City for lost money.
    I still want to know if i can drive through red lights now.

  • I agree with Udunno. I was hit by a red-light runner this summer. Speeds were only about 30 mph, and cars about the same size so no one was hurt … this time. But instead of it being a matter of a $75 ticket, it resulted in at least one totaled car.
    People essentially voted for non-enforcement of a law. Sure, officers can still issue tickets, but there are not nearly enough of them to act as a deterrent.
    It’s as if people just voted for a proposition to not enforce our immigration laws or to not go after large polluters because you have to use new-fangled chemistry and electronics to determine if they’re emitting poison into the air.

    In a democracy, voters have a right to make these decisions. I only hope that not TOO many people will die as a result of this decision. Can we keep it under, say, 100 Houstonians per year? k thanks.

  • @Udunno, Sorry to hear you were t-boned by someone who abandoned the scene of the accident, with “scewdriver in hand”??? I doubt if this type of person would be deterred by a red light camera.
    I find it interesting that some people would call others “STUPID” for opposing the red light cameras because they “Hide behind sad ‘constitutional concerns’ (bunk)” Is the requirement that a person have the right to a trail by a jury of their peers and confront their accuser not a good thing?
    Do you support an amendment to the constitution that forfeits that right for red light cameras? What other civil and criminal offenses should be excluded? Theft, embezzlement, assault?

  • NorJoe:
    How do YOU know if that person would be deterred?
    You DON’T. Period. Fail.

    STUPID is a word I chose deliberately. You can bet on that.

    Now YOU tell me exactly how the Constitution protects red-light runners, particularly when these cameras are used all over the country. WHERE has the case law evolved to make unconstitutional the (very common) use of red-light cameras?

    No opinions, NorJoe. Where is your legal basis for claiming that these cameras are unconstitutional “because you can’t confront your accuser, blah, blah, blah?”
    It’s just your opinion, Joe. As of today, IT IS CONSTITUTIONAL to utilize red-light cameras, which is why dozens of communities used them (and IMPROVE public safety.

    Too bad for all of us. Feel free to offer Supreme Court citations proclaiming the cameras to be unconstitutional. I’m waiting.

    The 3 ticket-fixers brothers (the Kuboshes) snowed you, too.

  • NorJoe:

    Also: No amendment of any kind is required to “forfeit that right” discussed here. That’s a ridiculous off-topic straw-man special.

    Again: Prove it.

  • Udunno-

    7/10 Good effort, troll. Lay off the ad hominem just a liiiiiittle bit longer next time.

  • Bob

    3/10 – nice effort to work in Latin, troll.

  • In 30 years of driving, I’ve been hit three times while stopping for red lights by tailgating drivers. Though the thing that actually made my decision to vote against the cameras was my brother, who has always driven like he has a newborn in the car. He received one of those right turn tickets. His first ticket in 25 years of driving. I know he stops at the red light when he turns. The video evidence wouldn’t play for him either.

    The lights might have been promoted for safety, but it turned into a money grab. I think they weren’t giving out enough tickets for running the lights so they had to start going after right turners to make money. That is not a safety issue and warped the reason for the cameras. That’s a no-go for me.

  • @Udunno, I made an inference that a person who would flee the scene of an accident has little respect for the law, that would include red light cameras. You are correct, I DON’T know.Period.I Fail.

    Legislative bodies do create laws that are later ruled unconstitutional. The laws would stay on the books until they are challenged in court. I am not aware of the red light camera law being challenged in the State of Texas. However, red light camera laws have been challenged and overturned in other jurisdictions. I know that those rulings do not apply to Houston or Texas, but it is a start. I am not an attorney, maybe there is a legal scholar out there who could provide additional information.

    Also, my understanding is that there was special legislation the State of Texas passed to allow the city to issue a civil fine instead of a criminal fine. By making this a civil offense they did not have to have to provide the opportunity for jury trail, as would be required if it were a criminal offense. Another opportunity for scholarly legal elaboration.

    I was opposed to red light cameras long before I knew about those ticket-fixer brothers. I have always used and highly recommend ticket-fixer David Sprecher.

  • Yeah, it was the right turn thing that made me vote against it too. It’s true rolling right turns fall under the definition of “running a red light”. But just like rolling through stop signs, it’s not very dangerous. And that’s why we give human cops the discretion to not ticket every driver they see for every minor infraction. I’d be fine with a $1000 fine for blowing through a light in a way that risks a T-bone accident, but of course then you’d have to have real trials and stuff where the camera evidence would be a problem.

    Did anyone ever release any actual stats on what percentage of tickets were issued for the more minor “red light” infractions? I’m thinking that $10M/yr, $75 at a time, couldn’t have been coming only from would-be T-boners in just 50 intersections.

  • jt, I’m betting almost everyone who made a right on red got a ticket, with the city betting that it would cost most drivers more in time off work, money and aggravation than the $75 fine.