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Red light camera fine: Cost, demerit points and how to appeal

A letter in the mail from your State transport authority never bodes well for the hip pocket. If it's not a renewal notice for your car registration, then you can bet it’s a traffic infringement notice that will not only see you parting with hard-earned cash but licence points as well.

If you missed the flash of the camera, this is also the first time you will know you have been caught by a red-light camera, the accompanying photographic evidence usually leaving little doubt.

While red-light cameras are installed at key intersections across the country to decrease the incidence of accidents and resultant injury or loss of lives, they are in fact big business, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

In fact, in 2018, just one Sydney camera (cnr Elizabeth and Park Streets) generated more than $14.7 million alone.

How do red light cameras work?

Red light or safety cameras as they are also known, are connected to the traffic light and linked to sensors under the first white stop line.

The camera is triggered when the vehicle crosses the white line on a red light. The camera takes two pictures, usually of the rear of the vehicle, at the moment it crosses the white line and then half a second later to show that it had indeed proceeded into the intersection while the light was red.

The camera only takes the first picture if you cross the stop line more than 0.3 seconds after the light has turned red so cars that entered the intersection on a yellow light will not trigger the camera.

In addition to the date, time and location of the offence, the camera also records the direction in which you were travelling, the speed limit and your actual speed.

Some red-light cameras are also speed cameras so if you speed up to make a light, you can find yourself receiving two infringements instead of one.

Remember the speeding part of the camera will be activated whatever colour the light.

How are red light camera locations chosen?

The premise of red light cameras is that they will help drivers make better choices. Ignoring a red light can result in a right-angle road crash which can be more dangerous to vehicle occupants in an event of an accident as the sided of vehicles tend to have less protection to absorb the impact than the front and rear of a car.

The vehicle that is hit can also more readily spin out of control resulting in further impacts and injuries.

Locations are carefully chosen and red light cameras are installed at:

  • intersections with the greatest frequency of crashes
  • those intersections identified as a high crash risk
  • potential sections of road where road workers, pedestrians and other road users may be most at risk.

So, you have received a red-light infringement. What are your options?

Red light cameras are serviced regularly but are not infallible. In Geelong, for example, a camera at the Evans and Moorabool intersection booked some motorists incorrectly for more than two years, resulting in additional fines of more than $2 million.

So, how can you get out of a red light camera fine? As with most traffic infringements in Australia, you can appeal a red-light camera ticket by writing a red light fine letter to the relevant transport authority.

If you believe you were incorrectly fined or crossed on red for extenuating circumstances, you can apply for an internal review within 28 days of receiving the notice.

If the application is successful, the agency can cancel the ticket. If the application is unsuccessful you can either pay the fine or have it resolved by a magistrate in court although courts rarely show much leniency. The court process can be expensive and complex so be prepared for that, too.

What if you were not driving?

If the photographs show your registration number but you were not behind the wheel, the fine and demerit points can be passed on to the actual driver.

At the back of the Penalty Notice is a Statutory Declaration that you can fill out providing the details of the driver at the time of the offence. Businesses can do this on company cars too to avoid the higher fines.

Do all States and Territories see red?

The application and installation of red light cameras are fairly consistent across the country but States and Territories do differ on penalties for going through a red light.

Locations of red light cameras can change with new ones added and some locations disused as situations change.

Red light camera fines New South Wales (NSW)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras180

Locations of red light cameras in NSW.

Red light camera fines Victoria (VIC)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras151

Locations of red light cameras in VIC.

Red light camera fines Queensland (QLD)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras119

Locations of red light cameras in QLD.

Red light camera fines Soth Australia (SA)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras13

Locations of red light cameras in SA.

Red light camera fines Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras13

Locations of red light cameras in ACT.

Red light camera fines Western Australia (WA)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras48

Locations of red light cameras in WA.

Red light camera fines Northern Territory (NT)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras18

Locations of red light cameras in NT.

Red light camera fines Tasmania (TAS)

Demerit Points3
Number of red light cameras3

Locations of red light cameras in TAS.

Have you ever applied for review of a red light camera fine? Let us know what happened in the comments below.

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