Red Light Districts: What You Should Know About WeHo’s Traffic Light Cameras

Red Light Camera signNo one likes a traffic ticket, but drivers especially see red when it comes to citations issued on the basis of red-light cameras.

Maybe it’s the feeling that Big Brother is keeping tabs on drivers using technology instead of old-fashioned police patrols. The jaw-dropping amount of the tickets—nearly $500—surely doesn’t help matters. (Why so much? In addition to the base fine, the tickets are rife with added-on fees.)

Although the City of Los Angeles stopped using red light cameras in 2011, the cameras are still used in other area cities, including West Hollywood, Culver City and Beverly Hills.

Opponents of the cameras view the system as abusive and suggest that many ticketed drivers did not run a red light deliberately and merely made an error in judgment. Zenon Porche, the Sheriff’s Department deputy who oversees the system in West Hollywood, says that it is fair and that it has significantly reducing the number of fatal crashes in the city.

Some of WEHOville.com’s readers have reached out with questions about the program. Here is what we learned that you need to know about red light cameras in West Hollywood:

Where are the cameras?

In West Hollywood, there are red light cameras at eight intersections:

• Fountain Avenue at Crescent Heights Boulevard, at Fairfax Avenue and at La Brea Avenue

•  La Cienega Boulevard at Sunset Boulevard and at Melrose Avenue

• Santa Monica Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue and at La Brea Avenue

• Beverly Boulevard at Robertson Boulevard

Why so many cameras in such a city of only 1.89 square miles?

According to Porche, accident rates determine how many cameras are needed and where they are placed. “West Hollywood is small, but it’s very congested,” he said.

What can I be ticketed for?

If you’re caught on a red light camera in West Hollywood, you can get a ticket only for going straight through a red light. Other cities cite drivers for making turns through red lights, but Porche said that, statistically speaking, tickets for turning violations aren’t justified in WeHo.

How many tickets are being issued, and who is being cited?

In 2013, the total number of citations countywide was 11,399, according to information provided by the Sheriff’s Department. Only 465 of those citations were issued to West Hollywood residents. Porche noted that West Hollywood residents are more likely to know where the cameras are and thus avoid being snapped running a red light.

Do I really have to acknowledge and pay this ticket?

Well, err, it’s hard to be definite, and it depends on what you mean by “have to.” But from a strictly legal standpoint, the answer is “yes.”

“You have an obligation to respond – end of story,” said Porche, who noted that an arrest warrant can be issued if you don’t respond. “We can come after you … Make no mistake about it, it’s a valid ticket, and people are legally obligated to respond.”

(Note: Responding can mean acknowledging and paying the ticket OR explaining and verifying that you are not the person who was driving the car when the violation occurred.)

From a purely practical standpoint, many reports (some going so far as to call payments “voluntary”) suggest that ducking tickets hasn’t  resulted in much in the way of consequences. The LA Weekly, for example, reported that a Los Angeles City Council member conceded that there were no consequences to not paying before LA ended the red light ticket program. Ignoring a ticket can lead to a call from a collection agency, but that’s not likely to affect your credit score, your driver’s license or car insurance rate. However, it could come up if you end up in court on another matter.

For his part, Porche said he has talked to the courts about stepping up enforcement of red light tickets. Ignoring the ticket may be the equivalent of going through an intersection on a borderline yellow. Perhaps you’ll make it through unscathed, or perhaps you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise later.

Red Light Resources

• The Sheriff’s Department provides information, including videos with Deputy Zenon Porche, online.

• Jay Beeber, the libertarian activist who led the campaign to get Los Angeles to drop the red light camera program, makes his case against the lights on his website, Safer Streets L.A.

Highway Robbery is another website that offers both arguments against the program and advice on what to do if you get ticketed.


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James C. Walker, Life Member - National Motorists Association
Guest

Bob should stay in another city AND tell the hotel WHY they lost his business. Arnold gave good advice for court behavior, I would add dress WELL. The Bone is correct, red light cameras are a cash cow – and a particularly vicious, predatory, money grab one. Red light cameras were NEVER about safety, only about $$$. It is easy to get even lower crash rates and drastically lower violation rates with traffic light engineering than it is with camera tickets. But fixing the engineering is not profitable. Using cameras allows cities like West Hollywood to literally rob mostly safe… Read more »

The Bone
Guest

California is a ” Spirit of The Law State ” NOT a ” Letter of The Law State ” …LASD evidently does not practice this, at least not with Deputy Zenon Porshe, who runs the Red Light Program. Zenon Porshe, when you listen to him speak, says : You don’t have any excuse, confusion does not play into it, with the ONLY valid reason being that you were not the driver… I strongly suspect that this Red Light Program exists for 2 reasons : #1 ) It is a cash money cow for the County, and they are not about… Read more »

Jim
Guest
Jim

Dennis: You may be able to ignore that ticket, if it is in LA County in California (I see you added “fl” after the Hollywood in your comment). If it is a California ticket, read all of the comments above, and the LA Weekly article.

DENNIS CARBEE
Guest

i got a red light ticket in Hollywood fl. I stopped but I ended up half way over the last white line. The photo shows a car crossing in front of me. Problem is I lost my notice and now it is past due. I suppose I should call the courthouse to find out if my license has been suspended and just go pay up

Maggie Bridges
Guest

Though the news is out that traffic ticket will not be pursued anymore, chaos remains in public. It affects the persons credibility and self esteem. Consulting a traffic attorney for California red light camera ticket would be the right option.

Henry Heighweigh
Guest
Henry Heighweigh

Kalia asked if she could get a camera ticket on a left turn. The answer is yes, if you enter the intersection after the light has gone red, that is a violation. However, if you are at an intersection where there’s no arrows controlling the left turn, and the light goes to red while you’re out in the middle of the intersection waiting for your chance to swing the turn, you are OK. Just wait for the opposing traffic to come to a stop, and then swing your turn. Here is part of the LA County court’s official explanation as… Read more »

Kalia
Guest
Kalia

So if you are turning left and go though the light, you won’t get ticketed? It’s only to go straight through the intersection?

Arnold
Guest
Arnold

I just went through the traffic court procedure in the traffic court of Beverly Hills for a red-light camera ticket I got in West Hollywood. I don’t know if it is good advice to ignore such a ticket, I’m not a lawyer. I certainly would not want to get charged with “Failure to Appear in Court”, because now it’s contempt of court instead of a traffic violation. I guess you could plead you never received the mailed court order. Unless they send it to you by registered mail. Check with a lawyer before you go that route, though. However, this… Read more »

Bob
Guest
Bob

The timing of lights should be standardized by County or State. The notion that a community or city can use a 3-second light (from green to red) on a turn left signal at an intersection during times with little to no traffic is unethical. I spend money in West Hollywood staying at hotels there when I attend journalism classes at UCLA as a student. I am not in a position to pay $500 — that will wipe out my savings to pay for classes. This is predatorial behavior by a city interested in paying it’s employees salaries and pensions. I… Read more »

Michael Hayden
Guest
Michael Hayden

As of April 14th 2014, I want to know what to do. I have read all the articles and I agree that the Sheriff is going to make a statement telling people to pay up. There are so many of these tickets ignored, I feel that not making an arraignment or extention or contacting the court is the way to go. There is no nexus or contract because you never signed a promise to appear for anything.

Roman
Guest
Roman

Does Culver city comes under LA Country ? one of my friend thought he might have violated ,but was in rental car so, don’t know the status.

Santamomica
Guest
Santamomica

I just got one of these and am trying to decide what to do. I absolutely did not willfully run a red light – I just got caught my surprise and made a judgement call not to slam on the brakes. Would showing up in court help me, like if the other person does not show up does it get thrown out? Or am I screwed either way because they have my picture?