Deadlock Over Red Light Camera Penalty

Houston police want to put the brakes on drivers who disregard the city's red light cameras. A grace period for violators ends this weekend. That means HPD has permission to put holds on drivers' vehicle registration renewals. But as Laurie Johnson reports — HPD can't really move forward with their plan.

Houston Police say nearly 78,000 people have run red lights and haven't paid the ticket, that translates to almost $6 million in outstanding fines.

The department mailed letters to the red light camera violators, informing them the grace period for those fines
ends on Saturday.

After the grace period, HPD says they can request a hold be placed on a driver's vehicle registration. That hold would prevent violators from renewing their registration until after the fine is paid.

However, all of this hinges on an agreement between the City of Houston and Harris County — an agreement that Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack says hasn't been reached.

"They want basically the county to be aggressive when it's helping them bring in revenue. But I think it's more complicated."

So when the police department says they will place a hold on those vehicle registrations, what actually happens is nothing.

"Unless they have figured out a way to get these registrations blocked that I don't know of, I mean what it boils down to is if they're sending out notices like that and there's no agreement then what they're sending out is not correct."

Radack is quick to point out however, that although the county does not have an agreement to enforce the city's red light camera program, red light violators should be held accountable and pay their fines.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...