Red Light Photo Enforcement: FAQs

Please read the list of FAQ's below. If you have a question that is not addressed below, please call (415) 458-2395 and leave a message to speak with the Red Light Photo Enforcement Officer.

Is red light running a big problem?
Does the American public support the use of red light cameras?
Who runs red lights?
What is red light running?
Isn't conventional police enforcement sufficient?
What safety benefits do red light cameras provide?
What gives the City of San Rafael authority to issue photo enforcement citations?
Do cameras phpotograph every vehicle passing through an intersection?
Do red light cameras unreasonably violate privacy?
How does it work?
I think I ran the red light because I saw the light bulbs go off. What do I do next?
What is the penalty for running a red light?
Where can I view a video of the violation?
What do I do if I receive a citation?
What if someone else was driving my car?
What happens if I moved and I did not receive the citation?
What address do I send my payment to?


Is red light running a big problem?
In 2006, more than 800 people were killed and an estimated 144,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running. About half of the deaths in red light running crashes are pedestrians and occupants in other vehicles who are hit by the red light runners. Public costs exceed $14 billion per year.

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Does the American public support the use of red light cameras?
The large majority of the US public supports red light cameras. A 2002 study done by the National Highway Safety Administration and conducted by the Gallup Organization found that 75 percent of drivers favored the use of red light cameras.

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Who runs red lights?
All types of people run red lights. The most common reason for red light running is impatience. In1996 a study compared red light runners with motorists who had an opportunity to run a red light but did not. As a group, red light runners were younger, less likely to use safety belts, had poorer driving records, and drove smaller and older cars than drivers who stopped for red lights. Red light runners were more than three times as likely to have multiple speeding convictions on their driver records. No gender differences were found between violators and drivers who did not run red lights.

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What is red light running?
A violation occurs when a motorist enters and intersection after a signal light has turned red. Motorists who are all ready in an intersection when the signal changes to red aren't red light running and are not cited.

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Isn't conventional police enforcement sufficient?
Enforcing traffic laws in dense urban areas by traditional means poses special difficulties and dangers for police who, in most cases, must follow a violating vehicle through a red light to stop it. This can endanger other motorists and pedestrians. Also communities such as San Rafael don't have the resources to allow police officers to patrol intersections as often as needed to ticket all red light runners. Camera programs work around the clock and free police up to focus on other enforcement needs.

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What safety benefits do red light cameras provide?
Camera enforcement programs have been proven to reduce red light violations as well as crashes and injuries at intersections. In Oxnard, California for instance, red light running dropped by 42 percent through the use of a photo enforcement program. In other cities, intersection crashes have fallen by at least a third and serious injuries have fallen by 10 percent.

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What gives the City of San Rafael authority to issue photo enforcement citations?
The authority is granted by California Vehicle Code sections 21455.5 - 21455.7

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Do cameras photograph every vehicle passing through an intersection?
Cameras do not photograph every vehicle passing through an intersection. Cameras are set so only those vehicles that enter an intersection after a light has turned red are photographed. Drivers who enter on a yellow light and find themselves in an intersection when the light changes to red, are not photographed. Camera enforcement is intended to catch motorists who enter an intersection after a signal has turned red.

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Do red light cameras unreasonably violate privacy?
Most people agree that driving on public roads is a regulated activity as well as a right. By obtaining a license, motorists agree to abide by certain rules-to obey traffic signals for example-for the health and safety of all. Neither the law nor common sense suggests that drivers should not be observed on the road nor have their violations documented. When citations are issued, the only recognizable person in the photos is the driver-all passengers' faces are carefully blocked out.

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How does it work?
A San Rafael Police Department red light enforcement employee reviews each red light violation recorded by the photo enforcement cameras. If approved by the employee, a Notice to Appear (citation) is mailed to each red light violator, and includes the registered owner's information, date to appear in court and contact information. The Notice to Appear will also include four photos of the red light violation: one of the vehicle behind the limit line when the light is red, one photo with the vehicle continuing through the intersection while the light is red, one photo showing the driver of vehicle and one photo will show a close up of the license plate.
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I think I ran the red light because I saw the light bulbs go off. What do I do next?
If you think you might have run the red light at a photo enforced intersection you should expect to see something in the mail within 15 days. If after 15 days you have not received anything in the mail and can call us at (415) 458-2395 or email us at photoenforcement@srpd.org.

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What is the penalty for running a red light?
The penalty for a convicted red light violation is one point on your driving record and you will have to pay a fine. To find out what the fine will be you will need to contact the Marin County Superior Court Traffic Division at www.marincourts.org or at (415) 444-7180, The Court is located at Hall of Justice, Room C-10, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903. Traffic school is an option for those who meet the Court requirements, Contact the Courts to see if you are eligible for traffic school.

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Where can I view a video of the violation?
If you have received a red light photo enforcement citation and would like to view the corresponding video, follow the directions provided on your citation and log onto WWW.PHOTONOTICE.COM from any internet connected computer (home, the public library, etc,), Use SRAFCA for the City Code field.

For those without an internet connection the San Rafael Police Department will set up an appointment for you to view the video here at the Police Department. You can schedule an appointment by calling (415) 458-2395 or by emailing us at photoenforcement@srpd.org, The San Rafael Police Department is located at 1400 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901.

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What do I do if I receive a citation?
If you receive a citation in the mail, you should follow the instructions on the back of the citation. They explain how to pay or contest the violation. If you still have questions about the citation you can contact the Marin County Superior Court Traffic Division at www.marincourts.org or you can all them at (415) 444-7180.

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What if someone else was driving my car?
You may fill out the Affidavit of Non-Liability located on the back of your citation with the correct driver's information. The affidavit will be reviewed by a Police employee. If the affidavit is accepted, the citation will be dismissed and reissued to the person who was driving. Remember, California Vehicle Code Section 14604(a) states that, "No owner of a motor vehicle may knowingly allow another person to driver the vehicle upon a highway unless the owner determines that the person possesses a valid driver's license that authorizes the person to operate the vehicle."

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What happens if I moved and I did not receive the citation?
California Vehicle Code Section 14600 states that whenever any person after applying for or receiving a driver's license moves to a new residence, or acquires a new mailing address different from the address shown in the application or in the license as issued, he or she shall within 10 days thereafter notify the State Department of Motor Vehicles of both the old and new addresses. Also, California Vehicle Code Section 4159 states, "Whenever any person after making application for their registration of a vehicle required to be registered under this code, or after obtaining registration either as owner or legal owner, moves or acquires a new address different from the address shown in the application or upon the certificate of ownership or registration card, such person shall, within 10 days thereafter, notify the department of his old and new address."

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What address do I send my payment to?
Please follow the instructions on the back of your Notice to Appear to find out where to send your payment. Or you can contact the Marin County Superior at www.marincourt.org or at (415) 499-7180, The Court is located at Hall of Justice, Room C-10, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903.

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