Murrieta’s Automated Red Light Photo Enforcement Safety Program FAQs
Here you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about Murrieta’s Automated Red Light Photo Enforcement Safety Program.
What is an Automated Red Light Photo Enforcement Safety Program?
The Murrieta Police Department uses an Automated Red Light Photo Enforcement Safety Program to supplement traffic enforcement by Murrieta police officers. The photo enforcement safety program deploys combinations of violation detection systems, digital cameras, and video cameras to capture alleged violations. The components are installed at intersections where there is a past history of a high incidence of red light runners and traffic collisions.
The purpose of the photo enforcement safety program is to deter red light violations, reduce broadside traffic collisions, and increase traffic situational awareness in the City.
Why are automated enforcement systems used?
The photo safety program uses automated enforcement components to complement and supplement traffic enforcement efforts by Murrieta Police Officers in the Traffic Bureau and within the Patrol Division. The photo enforcement safety program is just one of many components of the police department's traffic safety strategy.
What is a red light violation?
A red light violation occurs when a vehicle crosses the legal violation point and proceeds through the intersection after the traffic signal displays a steady red light. It is not a violation if the vehicle entered the intersection prior to the traffic signal displaying a steady red light.
In California, the point of violation is defined in several ways. If a crosswalk exists, the limit line or point of violation is the first line of the crosswalk. If there is only a white limit line painted on the ground and no crosswalk the painted limit line is the point of violation. If no crosswalk or limit line is painted on the ground the point of violation is the "prolongation" of the curb line. Simply stated, this is a line from the curb face on one side of the street to the curb face on the opposite side of the street. If a vehicle crosses any of these points after the traffic signal displays a steady red light, the driver committed a red light violation.
If an intersection permits a right turn while displaying a steady red light, the vehicle must make a complete stop prior to the point of violation and then proceed through when traffic has cleared and it is safe to do so.
Why are citations issued for right turns on a red?
Citations are issued for turning right on a red without stopping because it is clearly a violation of the California Vehicle Code. Bicyclists and pedestrians are often hit by red light runners which account for many serious injuries and deaths every year.
Murrieta’s Automated Red Light Photo Enforcement Safety Program has a speed filter installed to limit triggering of the camera system to vehicles going over 10 miles per hour on a right turn. Citations are only issued for vehicles going over 10 mph around the corner. Drivers going over 10 MPH while negotiating a right turn on a red light cannot adequately see and react to hazards in the crosswalk before entering it, which poses a safety threat to bicyclist and pedestrians.
How do automated enforcement systems work?
Murrieta’s automated intersection enforcement system is a combination of two high speed and resolution digital cameras, and a violation detection system.
Intersection Safety Cameras
The intersection safety cameras are fixed installations at specific intersections. The intersection safety camera detects alleged red light violations 24 hours a day.
The intersection safety cameras receive information from the traffic signal system to let the software know the color of the traffic signal, and remaining time left on the yellow light. Intersection safety camera systems use overhead camera sensors to detect vehicle presence and approximate speed. During the yellow phase, if the software watching the moving targets (vehicles) anticipates based on target speed, distance from the intersection, and remaining time left on the yellow phase, a violation is going to occur, the intersection safety video camera will begin recording the moving vehicle prior to the violation line and inside the intersection. A second camera will photograph the front of the vehicle for driver identification purposes.
If I am already in the intersection when the light turns red, will I get a citation?
No. The intersection safety camera may take photographs of the alleged violation if it is a close call; however, the photo safety review process conducted initially by the civilian processor employed by the camera vendor, American Traffic Solutions, and then by a sworn Murrieta Police Officer, will ensure this type of alleged violation is disregarded. Citations are only issued when a vehicle enters the intersection AFTER the steady red light is displayed.
Who receives the citation?
The Murrieta Police Department reviews alleged violations captured by the automated enforcement systems to determine whether a citation should be issued to an individual. Citations are mailed to the alleged driver based upon address information contained in motor vehicle files, driver's license files, and/or other public records.
What is the amount of the fine?
The State of California Legislature sets fine amounts and they change every January 1st. The amount of the fine is not under the control of the City of Murrieta or the County of Riverside. The fine is currently approximately $490 for a red light violation whether an officer issues the ticket in-person at a roadside stop or it is issued through the Automated Red Light Photo Enforcement Safety Program. Red light violations are one of the higher bail amounts for a traffic infraction, but this is because the California Legislature and law enforcement consider the red light violation one of the more significant violations because broadside collisions that result from red light runners cause such traumatic injuries and death.
What if the alleged driver was not the person driving the vehicle at the time of the violation?
The driver listed on the citation should read, complete, sign, and submit the Affidavit of Non-Liability. Provide us with a good phone number so we can contact you if we have any questions about the Affidavit. Mail the affidavit to the following address:
Violation Processing Center, PO Box 22091, Tempe, AZ 85285-2091
The Affidavit of Non-Liability must be received within 30 days of the violation date. Submitting false information is a violation of the California Vehicle Code an arrestable offense.
The submitted information will be reviewed by sworn officers at the Murrieta Police Department. If the information is complete and accurate, the citation will be dismissed and re-issued based upon information provided on the Affidavit or other public records. You will receive a notice from the Murrieta Police Department in the mail that your Affidavit of Non-Liability has been accepted and the citation dismissed in your name. It is very important you hold on to this document. Nothing further is required of you if you receive this letter.
If the Affidavit of Non-Liability is incomplete or missing any driver information, it will not be accepted by law enforcement and the citation will remain in the name it was originally issued to. You will not be notified if the Affidavit is rejected.
You are under no legal requirement to disclose the identity of the person who committed the violation. However, by refusing to identify the driver, the citation and liability associated with the violation will remain in your name. To have the citation dismissed while not disclosing the identity of the person who committed the violation, you must contest the citation in one of two ways: by court trial (requires a mandatory court appearance in front of a magistrate) or by written declaration (by mailing a certified or registered declaration which does not require a mandatory court appearance). Either way, the full bail amount must be posted first before the citation can be contested. In a court trial or trial by declaration, you are not legally required to identify the driver. If the court case is dismissed, all posted bail amount fees will be returned to you by the court.
If the vehicle was reported stolen at the time of the violation, the owner must submit the Affidavit of Non-Liability with a copy of the official police report.
Can I receive citations for other offenses as a result of my red light camera citation?
No. The automated photo enforcement safety program only issues citations for red light violations. The Murrieta Police Department does not assign multiple violations or other offenses to the citation.
Does the Photo Enforcement Safety Program post the location of automated enforcement systems?
Yes. You may find the information on the City of Murrieta’s web page at www.murrieta.org under the Police Department link.
Where do I mail my payment?
If you are electing to pay your citation and not contest the violation, follow the instructions that arrive with the Court Courtesy Notice from Riverside Superior Court. If you do not receive a Courtesy Notice within a week or so of receiving your citation in the mail, you may call the court at the listed numbers on your citation for fine information. The Temecula court that has the fine information is listed at the bottom of your ticket.
Do not wait indefinitely for the court to send you a Courtesy Notice. You must still contact the court to either contest or make arrangements to pay your ticket by your court date listed on the ticket to avoid a possible DMV license suspension, DMV vehicle registration hold, and additional fines imposed by the court for a Failure to Appear. You cannot ignore the citation.
Can I pay my fine in person?
You may pay your fine in person at the Riverside Superior Court located at 41002 County Center Drive in Temecula between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The telephone number is (951) 222-0384. The Court’s internet address is www.riverside.courts.ca.gov
How do I defend myself against a red light camera ticket if I think I am in the right?
Like any other citation received for an infraction you may pay the fine, go to court on the date listed on your citation and ask for a trial, or go to court and ask for Traffic School.
Should you wish to contest your citation, the court will require you pay your fine up front before a judge sets your trial date. This procedure is not unique to the red light camera citation and has nothing to do with your guilt or innocence. It is the same for all traffic infractions citations where the violator wants a court date set.
Before deciding to contest your citation, you should make sure you have reviewed the video feed associated with your citation before your trial. This is the evidence the police officer will be showing in open court. This video can be accessed via any internet connection by following the “Violation Video Viewing” instructions on the back of your citation. You may also set up an appointment to view the video at the police station with an officer if you lack the ability to view it at home. Remember, if you make an appointment to come to the station to view the video, it is only a viewing. The police officer showing you the video cannot adjudicate the citation at the station. That is a function of a judge in a court room. The officer can only show you your video and answer basic questions for you. Appointments to view video are set up by calling (866) 334-2157.
Who maintains the cameras and makes sure they are working correctly so a motorist is not unfairly cited?
The vendor selected by the City Council, American Traffic Solutions, provides all maintenance for the system. Each time maintenance accesses the system either remotely or physically at the roadside a log entry is made showing what maintenance was accomplished. The system functions with very few problems. It is designed with many fail safe features so if any part of the software or hardware fails to perform within set parameters the system automatically takes itself off line until maintenance is performed. This particular system uses overhead cameras and sensors with nothing placed underground. Murrieta’s system simply begins recording when the software detects a violation is about to occur and video is captured. Anyone viewing the video can plainly see the yellow light changing to red and the violator driving through the red light. Before any citation is issued, a sworn Murrieta Police Officer reviews the video captured by the system.
Where can I get help with my photo safety citation?
American Traffic Solutions is Murrieta’s vendor for the Automated Red Light Photo Enforcement Safety Program. Their customer service center can be reached toll-free by calling 1-866-334-2157. You can also reach a traffic officer with the program by calling the Murrieta Police Department Traffic Bureau Sergeant Jim Gruwell at (951) 461-6389 or e-mailing him at email@example.com
What Profit does the City of Murrieta, the Police Department, or American Traffic Solutions make?
The City of Murrieta and police department makes no profit from this system. According to the City Finance Director the program costs the city of Murrieta approximately $139,000 a year when all personnel and administrative costs to run the program are considered.
The vendor, American Traffic Solutions, is a private business which operates as a for-profit enterprise.
What public safety impacts has the City experienced?
Red light violations at all three intersections with cameras have fallen from 5,100 violations a month in 2005 to 121 violations a month in 2011. The broadside accident rate at camera intersections have dropped by two thirds over adjacent intersections without cameras. Rear-end collisions have not dramatically increased. Between 2006 and 2011, the three intersections with cameras experienced 10 more rear-end collisions than took place at three adjacent intersection not outfitted with cameras.
Together we can make Murrieta safer. Remember to slow down and stop on red.