Do you really have to pay the fine for a red-light camera ticket?
Have you ever driven through one of the forty-five intersections in Memphis and the surrounding areas with a red-light camera, only to receive a citation in the mail saying you owe $50? Do you really have to pay the fine?
Where did the cameras come from?
Red-light cameras, officially known as photo enforcement cameras, first appeared in Memphis a decade ago. As reported by WMC Channel 5 Memphis (here and here), the Memphis City Council originally voted to allow the installation of cameras at 31 intersections across the Mid-south area to ensure safety by acting as a deterrence. While there are arguments for and against the effectiveness and increased safety of red-light cameras, there is no denying that they provide a financial boom to the city of Memphis and American Traffic Solutions, Inc., the installer and operator of the cameras. In fact, it is estimated that the cameras have generated over 26 million dollars in profit!
Do I really have to pay the fine?
According to West Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt “If you receive a photo enforcement citation of any type from any town in the state of Tennessee, you do not have to pay that – and I would encourage people not to pay it.”
If you have received a citation, go ahead and take a closer look at it; state law in Tennessee requires all traffic camera citations to print on them, in large-bold letters, “NON-PAYMENT OF THIS VIOLATION CANNOT HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE, CAR INSURANCE RATES, OR CREDIT REPORT.”
What should I do with my red-light camera ticket?
With the knowledge that nonpayment of a ticket cannot affect your driver’s license, car insurance rates, or credit report, what reason is there to pay the ticket? The city does have the ability to take you to court to collect the fine, but we have never seen and there are no reports of this happening in Memphis or the entire state of Tennessee. Also, prosecutors can see that you have unpaid red-light camera tickets and may refuse to dismiss another traffic violation. In Memphis in all of 2019, according to the Memphis City Court Clerk’s office, there were more than 120,000 fines mailed out and just over one-third of those were paid.
I keep receiving letters asking for payment!
“You’ll receive letters. You’ll receive baseless threats. You’ll receive collection notices. You’ll receive letters from attorneys. All those things are an intimidation tactics,” said Representative Holt. It is in the best interest of the camera operators to do everything they can to collect the fine. If you feel that you are being harassed, or need further legal representation, contact the lawyers at Lenagar & Barnes Law at 901-322-8711.