When a driver runs a red light and sees a flash, this is usually a result of a red light camera that goes off when a vehicle enters an intersection from the wrong direction and after the termination of the momentary grace period that occurs during the changing of the light. Under Virginia law, a person can be charged with a red light camera violation if the car is still moving through the intersection half a second after the light turns red. When this takes place, the camera takes a photo and records the time, date, time elapsed since the light changed, and the vehicle’s speed.
A person who is found to be in violation by a red light camera can be forced to pay a fine of up to $200 and have up to 4 points added to the license of the registered owner of the vehicle. A person should not confuse these red light cameras with speeding cameras, which do not exist in Virginia.
According to Virginia speeding lawyer Thomas Soldan, “Virginia residents who commute or travel frequently to Maryland and/or the District of Columbia may encounter speed cameras, which issue citations based solely upon the speed a vehicle is traveling. Red light cameras, on the other hand, deal solely with illegal passage through an intersection, although speed is a factor that may be recorded when a red light camera is activated.”
Virginia requires that jurisdictions that use these cameras place signs within 500 feet of the intersection where the cameras are located and conduct public awareness campaigns to discuss the implementation of these programs. Municipalities that install red light cameras insist that these cameras are meant to encourage safe driving practices and decrease the number of traffic light violations that occur.
Traffic volume and accident frequency are used when determining whether there is a solid reason for an area to get a stop. For instance, the Hampton, VA city council has determined that there are areas where the police can set up cameras to collect data on whether a camera is necessary. This is the last step required by the Virginia Department of Transportation before the police can fully implement the red-light camera program in Hampton.
Although Virginia has seen an increase in cameras, this increase has come with some criticism. One is that localities are using these cameras to increase revenue. Thus, some groups have suggested creating a specific use for the money for things like youth violence prevention programs or driver education. Another criticism is that the cameras cause rear-end-collisions from people trying to avoid a ticket by stopping short. Regardless of public opinion, as of right now, the amount of red light cameras in Virginia is on the rise.