How to fight red light camera tickets
WHAT IF YOU WEREN’T DRIVING?
WHAT IF YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG?
This advice ONLY applies to Washington State.
For information on other states, check out this page.
YOU COULD SPEND COUNTLESS HOURS OF TIME PROVING THAT YOUR TICKET WAS A SCAM.
The court system is stacked against victims of red-light/speed-camera tickets. They are hoping you will just give up and pay the ticket. Don’t.
THERE ARE EASY WAYS TO BEAT THE RED-LIGHT/SPEED CAMERA TICKET SCAM, WITHOUT GOING TO COURT.
We have sample affidavits / red light camera declaration of non-responsibility forms, that you can send to the court (see below). When you’re sent a camera ticket they will usually send you their own version of a declaration of non-responsibility. But they ask you to name the driver, which is NOT required by law.
Lynnwood‘s, Renton‘s and Bellevue‘s websites have one, but they ask you to name the person who was driving (not required by law). But most cities don’t offer you any information about how to get out of the ticket, besides info on how to go to court. You don’t need to go to court! You should NOT have to go to court if you send in an affidavit/declaration.
1. Download an affidavit/declaration for the city you recieved a ticket in:
- Federal Way
- Lake Forest Park
- Moses Lake
- BLANK – Fill out your own info
Make sure you edit these areas to reflect the court’s info (if you’re using a blank form) and your info, and sign it:
2. Mail your affidavit/declaration to the actual city municipal court (address is printed on the sample affidavits above). AND send in the “declaration of non-responsibility” that they sent you to the address they request it be sent to. BUT do not name the driver on their form. Leave it blank, or write “unknown” – it is NOT required by law.
3. It could take a week or four but the court will probably send you a letter to tell you that they have received your documents. They don’t always, but most do.
4. We can’t say for sure how long it will take for the court to respond, but it typically takes about 1-2 months. You should receive a letter stating that it has been dismissed.
Facts to know about this “ticket”:
- It will NOT go on your driving record, paid or not. It is treated like a parking ticket.
- It will not effect your car insurance rates. It may effect your credit rating if unpaid though.
- It may have official city letterhead, but it was sent by the out-of-state company that owns and makes money from the cameras.
- The law says that the registered owner of the vehicle is presumed guilty UNLESS “the registered owner states, under oath, in a written statement to the court or in testimony before the court that the vehicle involved was, at the time, stolen or in the care, custody, or control of some person other than the registered owner”
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I fill out the declaration of non-responsibility?
Make sure all the highlighted areas are changed to the proper information (the correct court, and your information). Here is an example of the areas you will need to modify.
Can I just fill out the city's declaration instead?
Yes you can, but just be careful not to give them more information than you legally have to. You are not legally required to “tattle” on the actual driver.
Traffic Q&A: Car owner not required to tattle on red-light runner
December 07, 2014 03:44 PM
Updated December 07, 2014 04:45 PM
Question: I loaned my car to someone, and about a week later I got a notice from the city of Seattle that it had been caught on camera running a red light.
I have the option of signing a Declaration of Non-Responsibility form, declaring that I wasn’t the one driving, but the form asks for the name, date of birth, driver’s license number and address of the person who actually was driving.
My question is: Do I really have to rat out the person who was driving? — Joe from Tacoma
Answer: Tacoma attorney Martin Duenhoelter, who specializes in traffic law, says no.
“A person who receives a photo ticket absolutely does not have to rat out the driver,” Duenhoelter said.
“State law says the registered owner is the presumptive driver of the car at the time of the violation captured on camera,” he said, “but it also says ‘This presumption may be overcome if the registered owner states, under oath, in a written statement to the court or in testimony before the court that the vehicle involved was, at the time, stolen or in the care, custody or control of some person other than the registered owner.’ ”
“There is no obligation under the statute to name the actual driver — ever,” Duenhoelter said.
The city of Seattle uses an unusually threatening Declaration of Non-Responsibility form, Duenhoelter said, but it doesn’t change the law.
As for people who actually were driving and are tempted to lie on the form to get out of the $124 fine, Duenhoelter offers this free legal advice: “Don’t do it.”
“If people want to lie on the form when they were actually driving to get out of a fine, they may rest assured that their honor is worth exactly $124,” he said.
“Who wants to go through life knowing the cost of your honor is $124?”
What if there are 2 registered owners?
Fill out the declaration of non-responsibility for the person that the notice was mailed to.
Does this apply to a company registered vehicle?
Yes, you can send in a declaration of non-responsibility for notices that are sent to vehicles registered to a company/organization. If you can sign legal documents for the company/organization, you can sign the declaration.
I mailed in a declaration, but I haven't heard anything back
Some cities mail you a dismissal. Some don’t. Or they take a VERY long time.
If you are concerned about it, you should call them and ask if it has been received.
I mailed in a declaration but I still got a hearing date!
Reasons that this could happen:
- You didn’t mail the declaration before the deadline.
- You didn’t fill out the declaration with all the information it needed (notice number, date, signature, etc)
- The city isn’t following the law.
It is unfortunate, but some cities make up their own rules (sometimes). If this has happened to you, calling/emailing them might not help, but it is worth a shot. Politely explain that the law says that you only need to send in a written sworn declaration of non-responsibility OR testify before the court – NOT both.