Red-Light Tickets in Los Angeles Will Not Be Pursued

Red_Light_Camera_SignYesterday, the L.A. Police Commission made it official: They voted 3-0 “to formally stop collecting unpaid [red-light camera] tickets,” according to the the LA Daily News. As of Saturday, there will no longer be a city mechanism to collect on those $475 envelopes from hell.

More from the Los Angeles Times: “We are not going to pay the contractor to support the system anymore,” said LAPD officer Michael Gregg, who has worked in the red-light camera program for the last four years. “Without that contract, we don’t have access to the data — the videos, the photos.”

In addition, LAPD officers will no longer appear in court on red-light camera cases, he said.

The larger question, though, remains what will happen if you don’t pay a red-light camera ticket issued by any other city within L.A. County.

As was explained in many previous articles in the LA Weekly on the subject, the L.A. County Superior Court — who processes all red-light camera tickets — treats them a little differently than most violations, perhaps due to their legally controversial nature.The fact of the matter is that until you confirm the person in the photo is you, the court has no way of proving it.

Sherman Ellison, a top L.A. traffic lawyer, told the LA Weekly that after months of dealing with red-light runners and court avoiders, he hasn’t seen a shred of evidence of anyone’s credit report or DMV record being affected by an unpaid ticket.

And yet, there will be court notices and credit agencies, and that judges will be able to view your unpaid ticket on future trips to court. Various ticket blogs confirm as much:

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve gotten so many calls from people with ‘failure to appears’ who ignored their red-light camera tickets, and faced repercussions from ignoring their ticket. Many people who did nothing about their red-light camera ticket were facing phone calls and letters from collection agencies whom the court hired to go after them. Many were receiving letters from the court directly for failure to appears, threatening to suspend their driver’s license and issue a warrant for their arrest.”

But according to Ellison, the only way you’ll get a “failure to appear” is if you respond to the ticket in any way. Yes, even if you just acknowledge the ticket to a court clerk over the phone.

Ellison, our know-all attorney on the red-light camera trail, says he’s not recommending that you ignore the ticket. But if you do, based on his ample experience, here’s what will happen (slash not happen):

If you are issued a red-light camera ticket in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Culver City, Inglewood, Hawthorne or any other municipality within L.A. County, it will be processed by the L.A. Superior Court. And if you ignore that ticket cold-turkey — no contact whatsoever — the court will send you, or whoever is the registered owner of the vehicle, scary mail. If you continue not responding, you’ll start getting even scarier collections letters from GC Services. But if you ignore those, your ticket will be tucked away in the court’s internal files.

As far as Ellison knows, the violation will not show up on your credit report or DMV record. So your insurance company has no way of seeing it, either.

One more important note: If you end up in traffic court for some other violation, and the judge asks you about that red-light skeleton in your closet, the same ignore-at-all-costs rule applies. “If you then acknowledge, ‘I thought those were being dismissed,’ you are now under the jurisdiction of the court,” says Ellison.

“It’s an ethic and a moral issue,” he says. “If living with this unknown works for you, then it’s your call.”

In a blow to those hoping to escape ticket consequences, the L.A. superior Court recently ruled that red-light camera photos are legit evidence, and cannot be dismissed as hearsay.

But the City of Los Angeles will not be pursuing tickets that have received no response.

It’s between you and you conscience. And that heavy right foot.


– LA Weekly

The Actors' Gang


  1. I have a red light camera ticket which is not for me, which you can clearly see if I could get a Judge to look at it. I have now been charged $790.00 (breakdown $490 bail and $300 GC Services). The ticket was sent to me because I am the registered owner of the vehicle but you can clearly see from the picture (which I have) that it isn’t me. I was dealing with this first with the Covina Police Department, and I told them it isn’t me. Then I had to send in the notification saying it wasn’t me and tell them who it was, I did that. I then had to appear in court because no one told me not to, the judge wouldn’t look at the notice showing it wasn’t me and posted a bail of $490. I missed a court appearance after that because my car broke down and I called the clerk and she said “don’t worry about it, they would set another hearing date”. I didn’t hear anything from them and then I was checking online to see if there was anything and there it was the ticket had been sent to GC Services, where they tack on $300 just because the damn court system lets them. Today I went to court and the Judge (Pro tem) wanted to charge me $790 and not even look at my evidence, all she wanted to tell me was that I had a “Failure to appear” and she won’t let me explain. I have to words for all this – they aren’t good morning.

  2. THe CVC says yellow means “prepare to stop”, red means stop. I was going 25 mph and when I was 15 feet from the intersection, yellow turned red. Nobody can stop so fast. Culver city red light camera took my photo and video. The judge Pamela A Davis said I had to stop on the yellow light. THis is clearly in conflict with CVC, but nobody cares, they got $490! And yes, people will continue to run yellow lights.

  3. It’s not just the City of LA – You can ignore a red light camera ticket from any city in the County! Do a search on red light camera no consequence.

    Please note: The ability to ignore is only in LA County and only on red light camera tickets – and only if you have not contacted the court about the ticket.

  4. So, does anyone if checking the status of your ticket can be considered as acknowledgement of the ticket ? I mean, are they recording this stuff ?

  5. I got a court notice for $490 for running a red light. It was in LA county near woodland hills. Should I fight it or ignore it?

  6. I got the notice from the court, and I extended the date. Is that considered acknowledgment?

  7. In LA County, paying a red light camera ticket is voluntary (optional) – unless you’ve already contacted the court.
    Warning: Contacting the court ( or its website ) to check the status of your ticket or to sign up for an extension lets them know that you received the ticket. If you then decide to do nothing further about the ticket and so do not take care of it by the due date (or the extended due date), it is possible that the court will report you to the DMV.
    It is OK to go to,, etc., to view the photos/video of the violation – those photo viewing sites are run by the camera companies, not the court.

  8. So if I went to the LA Court website and looked at the ticket online, would that be considered acknowledgement?

  9. I received a read light camera ticket in culver city and i checked the status on line and viewed my photo and asked the lady at the photo center about the ticket not the court. could i still ignore it has anyone heard any cases where they ignored the ticket after looking it up?

  10. @Ted,

    How do you know that it notifies them just by looking up the ticket? I looked one up and the system didn’t have that thicket. Only an older one that showed paid from a different court house.


  11. So I got a red light ticket for 500. Wrote a letter to the court saying it wasn’t me. Just got a failure to appear in court with an added $300. I never went on any website. Can I just ignore and throw away. I was in LA County. I never got acknowledgement of my letter. I don’t even live in town. If I have to pay, how do I get rid of the acccessment? I want to just throw away but since I wrote the letter.. did I put myself in a hole?

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  1. Culver City red light photo violation from Arizona is unenforceable

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