No one likes a ticket ...
... but everyone gets one at some point. Most of us probably don't experience the sinking dread of flashing red lights in our rearview all that often. But with the shiny black lenses of red-light cameras going up at major intersections all over the city, a new kind of dread sets in. Watch the flashes pop in rapid succession as the light changes. Are every one of those pops a ticket—an expensive ticket? When will one be destined for your mailbox? Who gets all that money, anyway? What if we can't afford the ticket? And can we protect our plates against those prying lenses?
The Money Questions
$100 tickets add up. How much has been paid in fines for camera-caught traffic violations?
Under the Lens
Life's all about the commute.
"Think about how you spend your day," says APD spokesperson John Walsh. "On a bus, walking, operating a motor vehicle, as a passenger." Don't kid yourself, he adds. Albuquerque wants traffic enforcement because it wants a safe commute. The most common complaints to APD concern traffic accidents and violators of traffic laws. "Think about the hundreds and hundreds of violations that occur on a momentary basis."
To date, Albuquerque has 12 intersections staffed with cameras, ticketing drivers and netting millions of dollars. To achieve the same around-the-clock effect with officers would require 12 per intersection. That's 144 full-time cops working solely on traffic and only in those intersections. The cameras are a huge savings on manpower, Walsh says.
“I Don’t Have This Money”
City Councilor Sally Mayer got a phone call from a constituent right after the city's first cameras were up and running. The tickets are unaffordable, the caller fretted. "Believe me," Mayer says, "there are times where that would be what I would have to say, too. 'I don't have this money.'"
Where Are the Red-Light Cameras?
Know your enemy. Clip out this list of intersections outfitted with cameras and tape it to your driver's side sun visor.
Fines, Fines and More Fines
Are you a serial red-light runner? Here's what you can expect to pay per ticket in a two-year period:
*Gulp* Those Are My Plates ...
Amid all the coupons and junk mail comes the dreaded ticket.
You have three options:
1) If the day you're fined for happens to be the same day you lent your car to your sister, nominate her as the driver. But if she decides not to pay, the fine volleys right back to you, the owner of the vehicle.
2) Contest the fine by setting up an appointment to see a hearing officer. You have to request the hearing within 20 days of the date the ticket was issued. That date is printed in red on your ticket. But you can't do it over the phone. You have to fill out Section B of your citation and mail it to the address on the ticket, or go down to the Office of Boards and Commissions on the seventh floor of the Bernalillo County Government Center on Civic Plaza.