Red Light Cameras Are Illegal in Texas, But Some Cities Still Use Them?
I thought we were done with these things and today I am learning some cities still have them in use.
Back in 2019, the Texas Legislature passed a law banning the use of photographic traffic enforcement systems. According to Texas Transportation Code 707.021, “A local authority may not issue a civil or criminal charge or citation for an offense or violation based on a recorded image produced by a photographic traffic signal enforcement system.”
You may think that is pretty clear cut, but their is an exemption in the law. The law allows municipalities under contract with third party operators, to continue running them until they expire. Two cities in Texas still have contracts ongoing in 2021. Be prepared if you travel to Leon Valley or Balcones Heights. Amarillo and Humble were two other Texas cities that had a contact in place. It either expired or the city voted to end the contract early.
Residents in Leon Valley and Balcones Heights are pissed they're still getting red light camera tickets when these have been outlawed in the state. “They need to take them down and they need to stop sending these out,” Jason Campbell of Balcones Heights said. “How many people have paid this instead of paying a bill?”
“The City of Balcones Heights operates a red-light safety camera program to protect all people who live, work, and visit our City. It began in 2006,” said City Administrator David Harris in a statement to KSAT 12 News. “The 2019 Legislature discontinued new programs in the state and grandfathered existing programs to continue with its vendor until the end of the contract. The Balcones Heights contract with ATS/Verra Mobility runs through 2034. Balcones Heights Police Department reminds motorists to come to a complete stop at all red lights and stop signs. Rolling stops or “California stops” do not count. Thank you for making our community safe for everyone.”
2034?! You're gonna have some very upset citizens if you keep these things in place for that long. From what I can find, those are the only two cities in Texas that still have those cameras in use. Also, due to this law, you really don't have to pay that fine. Since the red light cameras are illegal, the fine cannot be used against you if you don’t pay the ticket when it comes to renewing your vehicle or license.
A voluntary ticket? So it's sort of like a warning now to drive safer if you get one of these in the mail. I imagine that is costing the city more in mailing these out than people actually paying them. Hopefully they find a way to end that contract before 2034.