Most people realize that flashing blue and red lights in their rearview mirror may mean a traffic ticket. Fewer people expect to find a ticket in their mail when they go out to check their mailbox. However, many motorists in Virginia every month also receive citations in the mail because of traffic cameras. Virginia uses a combination of high-quality traffic cameras, artificial intelligence (AI) software and in-person review to issue traffic citations without conducting individual traffic stops.
What does someone who recently received a ticket in the mail need to know about this practice?
Traffic camera tickets are legal in Virginia
It has been legal under state law since 2007 for municipalities to install cameras at intersections with red light signals. The state added rules in 2020 allowing the use of traffic cameras to enforce speed limits near work zones and school crossing areas.
Not every potential infraction captured by Virginia traffic cameras leads to a ticket. Instead, there is a review to ensure the quality of the image captured before sending it to the local police department. In fact, only speeding incidents involving someone exceeding the posted limit by at least 10 miles per hour (mph) even qualify for enforcement.
Local officers review each potential citation to ensure they have grounds to send a ticket. Quite a few potential tickets do not make it through the vetting system. For example, cameras in August 2023 captured 45,932 potential infractions. The research stage resulted in the rejection of 18,085. Some of those rejections related to school zone cameras at a time when class was not in session. Others had unclear images that didn’t meet necessary evidentiary standards.
Despite the theoretical legality of a camera-related traffic ticket, there are still ways to defend against these citations. For example, the person named in the citation could potentially establish that there was another person in control of the vehicle even though they are the registered owner of the vehicle. The location of the citation, the nature of the infraction and even someone’s driving record can influence the right strategy to use when responding to a traffic ticket issued by a camera.
Discussing a citation with a lawyer may help individuals aspiring to fight a traffic ticket determine if they have any viable options for doing so.