Red Light Cameras in DC

Red light cameras are a part of an automated photo enforcement program, which works by automatically taking a picture of a license plate of any vehicle whose driver violates the DC traffic laws.  The photographs are only able to capture the rear of the vehicle and the license plate; it will not capture the individual who is driving the vehicle at the time of the violation.

The purpose of the red light camera is to reduce the number of traffic violations that occur in DC, in order to prevent accident and injuries.

Laws & Penalties

DC Municipal Regulation 18-2103 states that a vehicle facing a red light must stop before entering into the intersection and must remain stopped until it receives a green light or flashing yellow light.

Additionally, a vehicle may turn right on red after coming to a complete stop and when it is safe to do so.  A vehicle is never able to turn left when facing a red signal in DC.

It is possible to receive a red light infraction even if one is not guilty of actually running a red light. A person may receive a red light infraction by a police officer if, for instance, the officer’s view is slightly obstructed from where the officer is located—for example, if someone is to come to a complete stop a few feet behind the limit line and the officer is not able to see the driver, then after the driver comes to that complete stop, he proceeds into the intersection.

Additionally, someone may receive a ticket for running a red light due to the fact that the driver stopped in front of the limit line instead of behind it.

Potential penalties will include a $150 fine if one receives a red light traffic infraction.  In regards to points, an individual will receive two points on a driver’s record if one is given a red light traffic infraction. There are no criminal ramifications because this type of citation is handled at the DMV and not the DC Superior Court.

Infraction Process

The Metropolitan Police Department developed the photo enforcement program through which an individual will receive a red light camera infraction.  Additionally, officers from the Department may pull someone over and issue a red light ticket; however, all payments or adjudication services, if the ticket is contested, are enforced by the DC DMV. The DC Metropolitan Police Department currently has 48 red light cameras at intersections throughout the DC area.  Online, people can view where each of these red light cameras are located.

Citations are mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner after an examination of the license plate photograph.  Once the owner has been notified through mail, the owner must either pay the fine, which is $150, or request an administrative hearing to contest the ticket. They do not have to sign any document they receive in the mail, but they must either pay the fee or contest the ticket.

The individual may request an administrative hearing that will take place at the DMV to contest the infraction. However, if someone is not happy with the hearing examiner’s decision, the individual may submit a Motion for Reconsideration within 30 days of the hearing examiner’s decision.