Light Camera Infringements
All red light cameras in Victoria are now digital cameras. They take a digital photo of the rear of a vehicle if it triggers a red light camera. The photo is transmitted electronically to the police data processing centre where an infringement notice is generated and issued to the registered operator of the vehicle.
There are many ways to win a red light camera case. Merely claiming you entered the intersection on a green or yellow light - or that the camera is faulty - is not one of them.
Defining a red light offence
Rule 56 requires a driver approaching a red light or red arrow to stop as close as practical to but before reaching the stop line.
Road Rule 59 prohibits a driver at an intersection and facing a red light from entering the intersection.
Road Rule 60 prohibits a driver at an intersection and turning in the direction of a red arrow from entering the intersection.
An intersection is the area of roadway where vehicles traveling on different carriageways could collide. It is the area bounded by the kerbs of the roadway and lies within the imaginary/actual line that connects each corner of the intersection. A pedestrian crossing is usually not within the intersection. If you stop on the pedestrian crossing, you have not stopped within the intersection.
How do red light cameras work?
In the vicinity of the stop line at a camera intersection inductive loops are embedded in the road surface. They detect the presence of vehicles which pass above them. The loops are often immediately before the stop line. There may also be piezo strips that are used to measure speed of vehicles.
The inductive loop detects the presence of a mass of metal above it. It is not activated by pressure. Generally, the mass would need to be at least 20kg of metal to be detected.
When a light turns red, the loop is activated. If a vehicle is over the loop at the moment the loop is activated no photo is taken. That vehicle can enter the intersection without being photographed.
If a vehicle passes onto the loop when the loop is activated, the loop will monitor the passing of that vehicle. If the vehicle stops on the loop, no photo is taken. If the vehicle clears the loop by moving forward, the system determines that a vehicle has entered the intersection against a red light. A photo is taken. A second photo is taken about 1 second later. Sometimes there is a flash associated with taking the photo.
When the system is working properly, the first photo will always show the rear of the offending vehicle about 1m past the inductive loop, and will always show the traffic lights are red. The second photo will show the vehicle entering the intersection - usually it is just past the final pedestrian line - while the lights are still red. If the camera system is faulty, then the photo will show that the lights are not red, or show the rear of your vehicle is not about 1m past the detection point. The photo is needed to prove the registration details of the offending vehicle. It is not needed to prove the light was red when the vehicle entered the intersection.
There should never be any doubt as to which vehicle caused the photo to be taken. The camera system specifies which lane the offending vehicle is in, and the rear of the offending vehicle is always about 1m past the loop in that lane.
The camera can not take a photo of a vehicle when the light is not red unless it is also a speed camera and is taking photos of vehicles speeding through the intersection on green.
It is impossible for a red light camera to take a photo of a vehicle that has not entered the intersection against a red light. If your vehicle was already in the intersection when the light turned red, the camera will not be triggered. Even if your vehicle was on the pedestrian crossing when the light turned red, it is very unlikely the system will take a photo. If your vehicle is on the pedestrian crossing when the light is red the law requires you to remain stopped on the pedestrian crossing until the light turns green.
Your options with red light camera fines
The recipient of a red light camera fine has the following options:
• pay the fine and incur 3 demerit points.
• ignore the fine and wait for an enforcement order to be made against you.
• elect to take the matter to court where on average your chance of winning is about 20% but sometimes it can be much higher.
• nominate the person responsible for the vehicle at the time of the offence.
• make an unknown user statement, a sold vehicle statement or an illegal user statement.
• apply for internal review - this will almost certainly be futile and counter-productive.
If you receive several red light camera fines within a short period of time, there is no likelihood that you will get a warning issued for any of them.
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