Automotive Finances & Money

Accepting Defeat by the Heavy Hand of the Law

Photo by dogbomb

I flip-flopped on whether to write this article because it was mostly my wife’s business, but since I was the one who got the letter in the mail, I’m taking full rights to the topic, and hopefully get some feedback from all of you AND educate you in the process.

The Incident

So a couple weeks ago, as we were driving back to PA to sell our old Pontiac Grand Am, I drove the Pontiac while Stacie followed me in the MINI. We drove to the main highway via a certain route with both red light cameras and speed cameras.

As we were chugging along, barely 2 miles from our house, a big box truck cut Stacie off right before a stop light. I had made it through (I didn’t know the light was changing), but Stacie, not wanting to be left behind, followed the box truck through the light.

The light had turned red before Stacie went through the intersection.

She called me on the cell to tell me she went through a red light, and I recalled that that specific junction had a red light camera. Uh oh. Well, nothing we can do about it now, so we just continued on to Pennsylvania, and eventually I forgot about the infraction.

Until this past weekend when I checked the mail.

You’ve Won A Million Dollars!

Wait, no, wrong envelope. Ahh, there it is. The envelope containing the citation from the city for $75. And who is it made out to? Stacie? Try again.

Guess who owns the car……..Me.

So as far as the city knows, that little girl with curly hair is named Michael Dude, and Michael Dude is a bad, bad person for running a red light.

Oh, but wait, is that a green Pontiac Grand Am up ahead in the picture? Is that a tall man with a receding hairline driving it? Oh, that’s nobody. He didn’t run a red light so he’s a model citizen.

Ooh! I’ll fight this!

My first thought was “hey, they have a section to request a court date. I should fight it”. But then I recalled Stacie knowingly went through the red light. It wouldn’t be right to go into the court and waste the judge’s time trying to weasel our way out of a legitimate ticket. Would it?

My next thought was to call Stacie and tell her she needs to earn some extra money (which I did). No, I won’t force her out on the corner like a certain PF blogger. This is Stacie’s first infraction versus my 10-page rap sheet, so I wanted to needle her a bit about it. She got a kick out of it, only because it’s in my name. She doesn’t have to worry about her record!

But I’ll just pay the $75 and be done with it. First, it doesn’t go onto my driving record or ding me with any points (unless I don’t pay, I think). Second, it was a legitimate ticket. Third, I got one of these myself about 7 years ago in Virginia, and know it’s just easier to pay it than fight it (if you know you’re in the wrong and want to stay honest). However, my ticket was only $50. My how inflation has taken its toll!

Now if it was one of those speed cameras, I might be more willing to go to court. I personally don’t like the idea of a static photograph as proof that I was moving, much less speeding. I would want personal or video testimony about my driving, which a stationary camera doesn’t give.

So what are your thoughts? Should I fight it? Have you had success with fighting and winning in the past? Any tactics I should follow (or maybe my fellow readers should as I’m too honest 😉 )

About the author

Clever Dude


  • She might be able to fight it by saying the truck blocked her view of the light so she did not see the red.

    A friend of mine said his boss did that and got out of a ticket.

  • The red light cameras are pretty cut and dry – I think they should be put in more intersections. As for the speeding cameras I think they’re a bit of a joke. Yes they know you’re speeding but a static image can’t prove anything. I’d fight every single one of those I ever got. I’d like them to prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the machinery was reading everything correctly.

    Probably a good idea to not fight the ticket – might be more time than its worth (and its only a chance you’d get out of it).

  • The only thing I’ve heard red light cameras are good for is increasing rear end collisions as people slam on their brakes.

  • we need those cameras to help fight terrorists 😛

    i say if you still lived up here to fight it, but the cost of gas, just mail it in.

    to give an example of how old-people-pandering this city is…we had an old person make a restraunt a “drive thru” by driving her car right through the side of the building, and nothing happens to her…

    and the worst one was…

    a couple years ago, someone disposed of a chemical munition into a local river, it exploded and made kids from two local high schools extremely sick. the cops started a manhunt because they wanted to put this person in jail.

    …then an old man came forward and said it was from ww2, and wanted to get rid of it…needless to say, nothing happened.

    so to recap. if you drive under 20miles an hour in pennsyltucky, and you are old, you are safe. if you are trying to pass said old person, then you are going to get fined.

    /rant off

  • Fight it! 🙂

    I have fought A LOT of traffic tickets, both professionally (as a law student) and personally (as a bad driver). I have also seen the prosecution side of traffic tickets, and this is why I say fight EVERYTHING.

    If you go in and speak to the prosecutor before trial, you will almost always be able to bargain a lower offence / fine. Trust me, an offer will be made. In your case, as there are no points so it’s not a big deal, but you can use this approach to reduce or eliminate points very easily.

    I commend you for taking responsibility for the ticket rather than spouting off with “OMGWTF evil big brother” stuff. But if you want to save a few bucks, go for a plea bargain 🙂

  • I think your reasons for paying the ticket are very sound — it was, as you note, a legitimate ticket, but more importantly, it doesn’t go on your driving record. $75 is not too high a price to pay, and you’d likely have to spend some of your valuable time trying to fight it.

    I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about these red light cameras — we recently had some put in around here…. I think we’ve all been in situations where someone running a red light has almost caused an accident. In many ways, it seems like red light cameras serve a bigger public interest than seat belt laws. I’m curious to see the effect over time after people get accustomed to having these around.

  • As some commenters said, rear-end collisions do rise significantly when a new camera is installed, but they lessen with time. Sure, it sucks for the people who get rear-ended, but why are they not paying attention and slowing down for a yellow? When I got my license, that’s what the state laws told me was a proper reaction to yellow: slow down.

    I don’t see problems at the many local intersections now that we’ve had cameras for a year or two (or has it been longer?). People slow and stop when they see yellow. The key is (and this probably only applies to cities that have this) is to keep a lookout for the pedestrian walk signal. If it’s flashing red, then you probably need to slow down because the light will change soon.

  • I say pay it. It’s a legitimate ticket, and since I’ve been nearly knocked over by people jumping red lights I’m a lot less sympathetic anyway. Speeding tickets should also be paid – the speed limit is posted, and if you have a licence you should know the rules.

  • I would say fight the ticket !

    Not fighting will only encourage more red-light and speeding camera..and lo behold, all citizens would have to sign up for automatic-deduction from their checking account as this will save time, money for the county/city….

    You run thro’ the red light, you pay instantly and there is no pain! ever…

  • You know how some people can always do bad things and never get caught? No, me, the ONE time I ever go through a red light (and yes the box truck did block my view; you can see it on the photo), I get caught!!! See, it does pay to be a goody two shoes. Or in this case, you have to pay if you’re not!

  • Screw that, .50 cents is too much to pay these fundraising stooges.
    Speed/redlight cameras are nothing more than a taxation without representation scheme fomented by the lowest class of humanity (politicians) on an unwitting victim populace of motorists.
    That smarmy class of politicians have already profited greatly from the camera lobbiests padding thier coffers with campaign donations and special interest monies to their friends and allies.

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