Red-Light Traffic Ticket Attorney in Virginia
Running a red light is one of the most common traffic violations drivers commit in Virginia. When you approach an intersection with a yellow light, you might think you have time to enter the intersection before the light turns red. But if you misjudge the situation, law enforcement might issue you a red-light ticket, especially as more and more Virginia intersections are now equipped with automatic red-light cameras to catch violators.
If you receive a traffic ticket for running a red light, don’t assume you have no choice but to pay the fine and accept having points added to your driving record. Reach out to Upton Law, PLLC, for a free initial case evaluation to discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable red light defense lawyer. Attorney Samantha Upton is ready to review your situation and explain how she can help.
Virginia Laws on Running Red Lights
When faced with a red-light signal at an intersection, Virginia law requires all vehicles to stop before the stop line. Drivers may make a right turn on a red light after coming to a complete stop at the stop line unless otherwise posted at an intersection.
Failing to come to a stop at a red light may result in a police officer issuing a ticket or the driver receiving a ticket in the mail if caught on a red-light camera.
How Much Is a Red-Light Ticket in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, if a police officer pulls you over for running a red light, you can receive a maximum fine of $350. However, if you receive a ticket in the mail after being caught running a red light by a red-light camera, the law imposes a maximum fine of $50.
It is a moving violation when an officer tickets you for running a red light, you could receive demerit points on your driving record, and the violation might result in an increase in your car insurance rates. However, a photo-enforced red-light ticket is not considered a moving violation and does not carry any demerit points.
Ways to Get a Red-Light Ticket Dismissed
While a red-light ticket might seem like an open-and-shut case, depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have options for getting your red-light ticket dismissed. Potential defenses may include:
- You entered the intersection before the light turned red. If a police officer claims you ran the red light, you might be able to contest the officer’s testimony. For example, if you have dashcam footage showing you entered the intersection on a green or yellow light or eyewitness testimony that the light was not red, you might be able to persuade the court you did not commit the infraction.
- The red-light camera does not show a violation. Red-light camera technology is not always perfect. Sometimes a camera will issue a red-light camera ticket when a glitch in the system caused the camera to capture a vehicle prematurely.
- The municipality failed to post red-light camera advisory signs before the intersection.
Red-Light Cameras in Virginia
In 2012, Virginia passed legislation allowing municipalities to install red-light cameras at intersections in their jurisdictions. A red-light camera is connected to the traffic light and sensors are embedded in the road at the stop line. The red-light camera is triggered whenever a vehicle passes over the stop line sensor after a “grace period” following the light turning red, which must be at least half a second.
The camera also triggers if you fail to come to a complete stop before making a right turn on red (where legal). If the camera is triggered, it will take a series of photos or a video showing the vehicle entering the intersection against a red light and progressing through the intersection. The camera will also record other important information about the event, such as how long the light had been red and the vehicle’s speed.
Red-light cameras only photograph vehicles that enter the intersection after the light has turned red. Any vehicle that enters the intersection on a yellow light but is still in the intersection when the light turns red is not photographed. Any intersection with a red-light camera must have a conspicuous sign posted within 500 feet of the intersection advising drivers of the camera’s presence.
Is the Owner of the Car Responsible for a Ticket?
While a red-light ticket from a police officer will be issued to the person driving the car, a red-light camera ticket is issued to the registered owner of the vehicle since the red-light camera does not know who was driving the vehicle when it ran the red light. Even if you were not driving your car, you could be responsible for paying or contesting any red-light camera tickets issued for your vehicle.
However, if your vehicle is stolen and you report it to the police, a court could waive any red-light tickets issued for your car while it was no longer in your possession or control.
Can You Receive Both a Red-Light Camera Ticket and a Ticket from Law Enforcement?
If a police officer witnesses you run a red light, the officer can pull you over and issue you a ticket for running the red light. However, if the intersection has photo enforcement, you could also receive a ticket in the mail from the red-light camera since the camera has no way of knowing that the police pulled you over.
When you receive a red-light camera ticket in the mail after a police officer tickets you, you can go to court to get the right light camera ticket dismissed. You then have the option of paying the officer-issued ticket or contesting the ticket in court.
How a Lawyer Can Assist You with a Red-Light Ticket
After you’ve been issued a red-light ticket, a Virginia traffic citation defense attorney can help you resolve your citation by:
- Investigating your case and recovering evidence, such as red-light camera footage or dashcam footage from your vehicle
- Reviewing the facts to determine if you may have a viable defense to your ticket
- Advocating on your behalf to try to eliminate the longer-term consequences of a red-light violation, such as points on your driving record
- Presenting your defense in court if you choose to contest the ticket
Contact an Experienced Virginia Red-Light Defense Lawyer Today
You might have legal options available to contest a red-light ticket you have received. An experienced attorney can help you fight your citation.
Upton Law, PLLC, is a woman-led traffic ticket and criminal defense law firm in Richmond, VA. Contact attorney Samantha Upton today for a confidential consultation to learn more about how an experienced Virginia red-light defense lawyer can help you pursue a favorable outcome.