Limitations on Camera Tickets
Under Washington law "automated safety camera tickets" can only be issued in two situations: speeding in school zones and failure to stop at a traffic light. There are a few important things to understand about theses tickets.
Camera tickets are legally equivalent to parking tickets. They do not get reported to insurance companies or the Washington Department of Licensing. Thus, "red light tickets" and school zone tickets, when issued by an automated camera, do not affect a person's driver's license status in any way. Unlike a speeding ticket, or other infraction, failure to respond or pay will not result in a license suspension. Non-payment can, however, result in a collections action and a hold on registering your vehicle.
There is a legal presumption (created by RCW 46.63.075) that the registered owner was the driver at the time of the infraction. The reason for this is that police agencies are not allowed to preserve or use any photographic evidence of the driver. To protect the privacy of driver's the legislature created a presumption of guilt (this is legal because of the non-criminal nature of the offense). The presumption of guilt can be overcome by registered owner(s) filing an affidavit stating that he or she was not the driver at the time violation occurred.
You do NOT need to identify who the actual driver was (unless you a rental car company or other legal entity required to report). Most courts have an affidavit form for you to fill out and submit to the court indicating you were not the driver when the red light ticket or speeding in school zone occurred. These can be obtained directly from the relevant court. Every affidavit of non-responsibility that I have reviewed is written to imply that you need to give the actual driver's name. The court would really like you to tell them who it was so that they can send a ticket to that person. Don't be fooled. Washington is very clear that you are not required to identify the driver.
Be aware that an affidavit to the court is a legal document submitted under penalty of perjury. If you were the driver, it is not worth committing a felony to avoid an annoying, but otherwise inconsequential, fine.
My office does not fight red light camera tickets or school speeding zone tickets. This is not for philosophical reasons, but rather more practical concerns. The $250 flat fee that you would pay to fight the ticket is not worth the potential gain. There is no money to be saved on insurance, no licensing consequences to avoid and you will pay more to get the ticket dismissed than the fine. We recommend you submit the case for mitigation (admit the infraction and ask the judge to lower the fine).
Red light and school zone speeding tickets are annoying, and feel very invasive, but my job is to save you money and license problems, not to charge you for something that has no real benefit to you. A red light ticket or school zone speeding ticket issued in-person by an actual police officer IS, on the other hand, worth fighting, as these will impact your license and insurance. If you have received a ticket from a real police officer we can help. Please feel free to contact my office to find out how we can help you fight your King or Snohomish County ticket today.