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What you should know about red light camera tickets

Published on Feb 2, 2021 | Last updated Apr 12, 2021 4 minute read

What you should know about red light camera tickets

When coming up to an intersection, the traffic light turns yellow and you decide to drive through, rather than try to stop. You clear the intersection and think everything is fine, until you see the flash. You’ve been caught by the red light camera! Now what happens?

Running a red light is committing a traffic violation. A traffic violation is any violation of the law committed by the driver of a vehicle while it is in motion. One of the most common traffic violations is a red light camera ticket.

It’s important to avoid committing traffic violations as much as possible. If you accumulate multiple offenses, you may need to apply for a high-risk auto insurance policy that can be very expensive. Many of the large auto insurers in the Canadian market can even cancel auto insurance policies after just one conviction.

What Is A Red Light Camera Ticket?

A red light camera is a type of traffic enforcement camera. It captures an image of a vehicle that has entered an intersection in spite of a red light. Photos are automatically taken of vehicles that run red lights to assist authorities in enforcing traffic laws. Generally, the camera is triggered when a vehicle enters the intersection after the traffic signal has turned red.

How Do Red Light Cameras Work?

Since the program is intended as a deterrent to drivers and to change their behaviour, there are signs at every intersection that advise drivers that there is a camera present. Here’s some more information about how this program works:

  • Red light cameras are installed at intersections that have higher-than-usual instances of drivers running the light. If a vehicle enters an intersection after the light has turned red, a camera takes a photo of the offending vehicle and its license plate.
  • Red light cameras trigger a camera or cameras when a vehicle passes over a sensor at the intersection when it's red. The cameras take pictures of the vehicle's license plate and the driver.
  • Many camera systems also record video footage of the vehicle going through the red light. Some cameras can also detect if you’re speeding.

Here is when you won’t be penalized for a red light camera ticket:

  • Entering the intersection on a yellow light or for being already in the intersection before the light turned red.
  • Crossing the stop line before the light has turned red.

Red Light Camera Ticket Consequences

As running a red light is a traffic infraction, there are consequences to running a red light. Red light tickets are considered “hazardous infractions” and insurance companies may increase convicted drivers’ rates perceiving a higher risk of being in an accident or making a claim.

The Ministry of Transportation issues tickets to the registered owner of vehicles that are photographed by the cameras. The tickets include a photo of the infraction as well as the date and time of the offense.

Here are possible penalties for running a red light:

  • Demerit points
  • A hefty fine
  • A conviction registered on your driving record
  • Insurance increases

Quick tips and information about Red Light Camera Tickets

Tips to avoid running a red light

  • Never drive distracted or when you’re too tired
  • Know your stop lines
  • Do not enter an intersection when the light is red
  • Avoid speeding to help with your stop time

Reasons why people run red lights

  • They are in a rush and don’t want to stop at the light
  • They are distracted and don’t see that the light has turned red
  • They are speeding and it’s too late to brake and stop at the light

Penalties for a red light camera ticket

  • Demerit points
  • A hefty fine
  • A conviction registered on your driving record
  • Insurance increases

Red Light Camera Tickets FAQs

Is it possible to go to jail for unpaid red light camera tickets?

In most provinces, you do not go to jail for unpaid red light camera tickets, or any other unpaid traffic tickets. The unpaid amount may be taken off your GST rebate or tax refund. When you go to register your vehicle, the registry agent can refuse to register your vehicle until the fines on your file are paid. Driving without registration is a much larger infraction than a red light camera ticket.

What happens if I don't pay a red light camera ticket?

Depending on the province your car is registered in, the unpaid amount can be taken off your GST rebate or tax refund. When you go to register your vehicle, the registry agent can refuse to register it until the fines on your file are paid.

How do I handle a red light camera ticket if I was not the driver?

Infraction tickets are issued to the vehicle's registered owner, so although the owner may not have been driving, they are responsible for paying the ticket.