Watch Out in Leon Valley--Red Light Cameras Go Live This Week

It's no more Mister Nice Guy in Leon Valley, as officials will start mailing out real tickets to the owners of vehicles photographed running red lights at one of the eleven red light cameras which are erected along Bandera Rd, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Warnings have been mailed out for the past several weeks, and officials are amazed at the number of people who have been photographed running red lights.  At one camera alone, they have seen as many as fifty violations per day.

The fine will be $75, payable by the registered owner of the vehicle.  Officials say police officers will review all citations before they are mailed, and a person who gets a ticket will have the right to contest it.

Red light cameras are considered 'civil violations' under Texas law, like a parking ticket. 

That means that unlike a speeding ticket or some other violation, you can't be arrested in those regular 'warrant roundups' if you don't pay up, and no 'points' are added to to your driving record.  Red light camera tickets also don't affect your insurance rates.

But it is considered a debt to the city, which means you can be hounded by bill collectors just like any other past due debt, and you could be denied the right to renew your vehicle registration.

Leon Valley is the second municipality in Bexar County, after Balcones Heights, to install red light cameras.

Supporters say they extend the authority of local police departments are are another tool to fight dangerous behavior, no different from the use of radar to catch speeders. 

 Communities like Leon Valley and Balcones Heights argue that most of the people who run red lights in their community are from out of town, and they can't afford, as small towns, to have a police officer at every light to chase down red light runners.

Opponents cite studies claiming red light cameras actually cause more accidents at red lights then they prevent, because a motorist is half way through the intersection and spots the camera, causing the driver to brake suddenly, and the car behind rear ends them.  They also claim mailing a citation to the car's owner is a violation of a person's right to confront the accuser, and point out that the registered owner who gets the ticket may not be the person who actually committed the violation.

Opponents also claim that red light camera operations are a money making tool for the private companies which erect and maintain the cameras, in exchange for a portion of the ticket revenue.

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