2014 started out with a bang. I received my first camera light ticket. In Dallas, they send you a bill with a photo of your vehicle and the license plate number and it is a $75 fine. There is also a link to their website where you can watch a video of the incident. I watched it 378 times, thinking I can’t believe I would have done this. And, the thing is, it may not have been me. It could have been someone else driving the car. I’ve loaned it to my daughter and my sister. I looked at my calendar to see where I was on that date and time in question to see if it truly was me who ran the light. The thing is, it doesn’t matter who was driving. It’s whomever the car is registered to that receives and is responsible for paying the fine. So, I just paid it. $75 is much less expensive than the whopping $378 fine that would have been issued by a police officer in Dallas. Typically, when someone gets a camera light ticket, they’re not blowing through a red light. Usually, they’re taking a right on red. They look to the left, there is no traffic coming, it’s safe, they “yielded,” but they didn’t come to a complete stop before turning. In order for your car to come to a complete stop, your car has to “settle.” They teach drivers education students now to stop for three seconds before taking a right on red, or stopping at a stop sign. Texas law does not require that you have to stop for a certain amount of “time,” but states that your car has to “settle.” Three seconds will ensure that your car has settled, though, so it’s not a bad habit to get into. So, don’t forget to stop for a camera light.

All that I know for certain about a camera light ticket is that it is a civil offense. Like a parking ticket, it will not go on your driving record. I have heard rumors that it will put a kibosh (that’s my favorite word for 2014) on your ability to renew your driver license if you don’t pay it. Of course, that can’t be true since it has nothing to due with your driver license. The fine is issued through your license plate number, which is your automobile registration. So, it is true that it will put a kibosh (there’s that word again) on your ability to get your annual registration renewed. Also, if you don’t pay the fine, it will go on your credit report, like not paying a bill. I do believe that much is true as I have two friends that work for a credit reporting bureau and they have said that they see camera light tickets on people’s credit reports quite often.

So, here’s the kicker…I’ve had several people in my comedy defensive driving class that have told me their insurance agent phoned them to let them know that their insurance rates have gone up because of their camera light ticket. I’m sure that insurance agencies keep tabs on their customer’s driving record to adjust insurance rates, but hadn’t even considered that agencies are also pulling credit reports as well. It was really baffling me…how do they know? So, that must be it. People aren’t paying their camera light tickets (both those they get at intersections where camera lights are present, i.e. photo enforced, and the camera tickets that are issued when passing a school bus when the red lights are flashing, i.e overtaking a school bus). In Texas, by the way, the fine for a camera light ticket is $75. And, if you don’t pay it, the late fee is $25. The fine for overtaking a school bus is $325. Which is much less expensive than the fine from someone in law enforcement (i.e. Johnny Law), which, as of September 1, in Texas, is a whopping $1,250.

So, if you get a camera light ticket or a school bus camera ticket, either pay the ticket or dispute it if you feel it is unjust. Don’t blow it off and let it go on your credit report. Just a little money saving tip from me to you for the new year.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist / Idea Mogul

Don’t Forget To Stop For A Camera Light – Comedy Defensive Driving