Last updated: July 2022

What You Need to Know About Red Light Camera Tickets

Green means go, red means stop, yellow means… go faster? If you’re in the habit of pushing the pedal to the metal when a green light turns yellow, you may have accidentally run a red light.

You may have also received a red light camera ticket in the mail soon after (or maybe there’s one on its way). How do these contraptions work and what are the penalties for getting caught by a red-light camera? Direct Auto explains all.

Why Are There Red Light Cameras?

There are millions of drivers on the road in America, and every day, someone runs a red light. The cost? In 2020 alone, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates 115,741 people were injured in crashes caused by someone running a red light.

Put simply, red light cameras are used to discourage red light running, and they make sure there are consequences for drivers who don’t obey the rules of the road. It’s not possible to position a police officer at every intersection to discourage risky driving as traffic signals are changing, so cameras help fill the gap.

But, do they actually serve as a deterrent? The answer is a resounding yes. Cameras have reduced the fatal red light running crash rate of large cities by 21%, reports the IIHS. Due to their great success, dozens of cities and states around the U.S. have set up cameras at major intersections and on traffic light beams to help discourage red light runners.

How Red Light Cameras Work

Red light cameras connect to traffic signals and sensors that can sense vehicles as they approach a crosswalk or stop line. A computerized system monitors and operates all parts of the red light camera technology. The camera snaps two pictures any time a vehicle doesn’t stop during the red traffic signal, according to HowStuffWorks.

But we all know computers and technology aren’t perfect. That’s why it’s standard practice for trained personnel to review every red light camera picture or video clip before a ticket is issued. The IIHS also notes most cameras give drivers a “grace period” of roughly half a second after a light turns red.

How Much Is a Red Light Camera Ticket?

Finding a citation in the mailbox can be a surefire way to ruin your day. Red light camera tickets can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on your state, the location of the red light, and your driving record. In some states, a red light camera ticket can also mean points on your driver’s license and/or an increase in car insurance rates.

In Alabama, for example, you can pay a $100 fine and get 3 points on your driver’s license or pay $110 and get NO points on your driver’s license. In Georgia, however, the maximum fee for a red light camera ticket is $70 and there’s no conviction or recorded offense, no points, and insurers don’t use the ticket against you. So, the answers to “how much is a red light camera ticket” and “will this ticket appear on my driving record” depend on your state and local laws regarding red light cameras.

There are plenty of states where red light tickets don’t affect your driving record or insurance rates at all. Many places even give you convenient payment options, letting you pay at your nearest DMV office, mail in a check, or submit an online payment.

No matter how you choose to pay, make sure you do! Some cities may block your vehicle registration renewal until you pay your red light ticket—and it’s illegal to drive with an expired registration.


Red Light Ticket Cost


$60-$110 Minimum Fine


Max $250 Fine


$100 + Additional Fees


$75 Max Fine


$110 Max Fine

District of Columbia

$150 Fine


$158 Fine


$70 Max Fine


$200 Max Fine (First Offense)


$100 Max Fine


$65-100 Fine


$100-125 Fine


$100 Max Fine


$100 Fine


Not Specified

New Mexico

$66-100 Fine

New York

$50 Max Fine

North Carolina

$50-100 Max Fine


$150 Max Fine


$1,000 Max Fine


$100 Max Fine

Rhode Island

$85 Fine


$50 Fine


$50 Max Fine


$250 Max Fine

*Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Ticket prices are subject to change can have additional fees, and sometimes you can pay more in exchange for fewer points on your driver’s license.


Traffic Tickets Don’t Define You

We can all agree—running a red light is dangerous and expensive. “Red light runners cause hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries each year,” reports the IIHS.

While we can’t help you avoid running red lights, we can help you recover after the fact. Tickets don’t define you at Direct Auto Insurance. Call, click, or come into your nearest Direct Auto store for a free auto insurance quote. We welcome all drivers to apply for affordable car insurance, regardless of their driving record or insurance history.

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