Traffic violation fines are somewhat lower in the US than in many other countries.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to avoid them wherever possible.
If you’ve been hit with a red light ticket in Louisiana recently, there are steps that you can take to fight it.
Read on as we look at the approach you should take to your traffic violation.
Why Red Light Tickets Are Given
Quite simply, you will incur a red light violation if you drive past a red light without stopping. However, because every driver knows not to do this, there are usually mitigating circumstances.
For instance, your view of the light may have been obscured, or the car behind you may have been driving dangerously.
These kinds of factors are important. If you manage to prove to a traffic judge that your red light violation was due to something that was outside your control, you may be successful in your attempt to have it overturned.
How Much Is a Red Light Ticket in Louisiana?
As with other kinds of traffic violations, red light tickets in Louisiana vary from place to place. However, you can expect to pay somewhere between $150 and $225 for a basic traffic violation.
However, if your running of a red light leads to a more serious incident, you may be liable for an amount far in excess of this.
For instance, if you hit and seriously injure a pedestrian after running a red light, you may have to pay damages for this person’s medical bills and other expenses. In ascertaining whether you should have to pay such damages or not, a judge will consider whether there was any justification for your running of the red light.
How to Challenge a Red Light Ticket
You should note that courts typically do not have much sympathy for these kinds of actions. If you want to successfully challenge a ticket, you’ll need a good story and capable representation.
That said, there are a number of approaches you might be able to take when challenging a red light ticket.
Use Your Driving Record
If you have an impeccable driving record, this alone may be sufficient to have your case thrown out.
Judges may be willing to forgive a slight error in judgment on the part of someone who is a capable driver. This is unlikely to work where the incident is particularly reckless or negligent, however.
Judges will also be more inclined to believe your version of events if you have a clean record.
Conversely, if you’ve had five traffic violations already this year, a judge is unlikely to take you seriously if you tell him a traffic light was malfunctioning.
Question Whether the Camera Was Working Properly
If your ticket was sent on the basis of photographic evidence from a traffic camera, you may be entitled to challenge it.
This is possible where the photo of you breaking the red light is blurry, or doesn’t properly capture your number plate. It is not uncommon for violations to be sent to an innocent party with a similar number plate to someone who has committed an offense.
Question Whether the Police Officer Was Properly Positioned
If your offense was witnessed by a police officer, you may be able to challenge this as well.
The best way to do this is to show that the position the officer was in was not one from which they could have properly seen you commit the offense.
You should note that judges are generally more sympathetic to police officers than defendants. You will require a reasonably substantial amount of proof to carry off this defense.
Tell Your Story
If your violation came about because of something that was outside your control, a judge may decide not to uphold your ticket.
For instance, you may have feared for your safety because of the dangerous behavior of another road user. Alternatively, you might have reasonably believed you would clear a junction before a light turned red (in Louisiana, you are only allowed to pass a yellow light if you can pass through the junction before it turns red).
You should note, in relation to this type of defense, that a red light violation is a strict liability offense. This means that a court does not have to prove that you intended to break a red light, just that you actually did break it.
A judge may decide to overturn the ticket if he or she feels that the incident was not your fault. However, they are under no obligation to do so.
When Should I Pay a Ticket?
Fighting a red light ticket isn’t always a good idea. There are certain situations in which you should simply pay up if you get hit with a violation.
The most obvious of these is where the evidence against you is very solid.
If a police officer had an unobstructed view of your vehicle as you broke a red light with no good excuse, you are certain to fail in any defense you make. This is equally true if you were caught on camera.
Judges don’t take kindly to having their time wasted. A frivolous action will stand against you if you happen to come before the court again.
Another factor that should make you hesitate to take action is a poor driving record.
If you have an offense on your record in the last three years, you’re highly unlikely to be successful in any claim against a red light violation.
Know Your Rights
Not every red light ticket ends up being paid. If you’ve received a violation ticket that you think was unfair, don’t be afraid to challenge it.
If you have a question about your red light ticket, or a ticket for another type of traffic violation, contact us today.