City Gets Tough on Red Light Runners

Houston red light runners, beware. If you're caught on camera running a red light, and don't pay the ticket you won't be able to register your vehicle until it's paid. The Houston City Council approved the new ordinance today. Bill Stamps has details.
The fine for a red light camera violation is 75-dollars. But apparently many people never pay up. And even when collectors get involved, thousands of Houstonians never pay their ticket. So as a last resort, the city has decided to play a hold on the driver's vehicle registration. Before approving the plan councilmembers had lots of questions.

"How do we make sure that the car and the address is the correct [ or] making sure that they're matching.

"It is the address of record according to state records in Texas Department of Transportation. That is the legal address for that vehicle"


That was Councilman Jarvis Johnson and Houston Police Department's Joe Fenniger.

What many councilmembers were concerned about is how convenient or inconvenient it will be for people to pay their fine…especially those who may not have been aware they ever got a ticket.

Councilmembers Johnson and Green.
 
"If a person goes at 2:30 thinking they're gonna get their car registered by the time Bettencourt's office closes at 4 or 5, then there's sort of a lag time there. They really can't get it all done."

Red light violators will be able to pay their fine online or in person in order to have the hold taken off their registration. Right now the city is owed more than 8-million in unpaid tickets. So far normal collection efforts haven't worked. Many, including Mayor Bill White believe this new plan is the right answer.

"There is some suspicion by law enforcement that the greatest risk are caused by some minority of the drivers who engage in chronically dangerous activities.  And so, we don't want there to be people out there that just ignore theses citations.   We want to catch them and have consequences." 

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.