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BC halts plan for red-light speed cameras, but it’s not over yet

By: Ticket Lawyer on October 4, 2018


The BC government has made a U-turn over plans for red-light speed cameras in the province, but it appears the controversial policy is not quite over yet. In previous blogs, we have discussed the creeping return of photo radar in BC. Red light cameras were recently installed at 140 intersections across the province. A number of those cameras were set to be upgraded to also capture the speed of vehicles passing through, including on green lights.

Although they are not issuing tickets just yet, the red-light cameras have been gathering data on the speed of passing vehicles. The government planned to use this information to decide which intersections should be upgraded to measure speed this fall. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth recently said the government needs more time to review the data and cameras won’t be upgraded to measure speed until summer 2019. So it’s not so much a reprieve as it is a stay of execution. Farnworth also told the media that a total of 35 intersections will be upgraded to detect speed.

“Any speeding ticket from a red-light camera without an officer’s visual estimation would be open to challenge in court.”

The controversial history of red-light speed cameras

Understandably, the scheme has BC motorists concerned. The government and ICBC desperately want the extra revenue stream to stop the haemorrhaging of public money, but it has been met not so enthusiastically by the public. Photo radar was so unpopular when it was implemented by the NDP in the 1990s, it was scrapped completely in 2001. Drivers saw them pretty much for what they were, a government cash-grab. Promises not to place photo radar at the bottom of hills on in areas where there were not serious concerns over speed were not kept.

Now, the BC government says the red-light speed cameras will be different from photo radar. Their locations will be available on an online map and there will be signage at intersections to indicate where they are. Despite this, the scheme still has some major flaws.

Ability to challenge a red-light speeding ticket

Once the program is up and running, anyone caught speeding would have a photo of their vehicle passing through the intersection sent to them with a speed reading and ticket through the mail.

According to retired police officer Grant Gottgetreu, photo radar tickets cannot be used as stand-alone evidence without an officer first making a visual estimation. Usually, a photo radar or reading from a laser speed detection device is used to confirm their visual estimation and reasonable belief that someone was going to fast. This potentially means that any speeding ticket from a red-light camera without an officer’s visual estimation would be open to challenge in court.

The photos issued by the red-light speed cameras will not be able to identify the driver so no points or infractions will be added to the driver’s record. Instead, a ticket will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. With only a financial penalty and no other disincentives, many drivers will probably just pay the fine because they think it will be less trouble than getting it overturned. This attitude is exactly what the BC government is banking on.

What to do if you get a red-light speeding ticket

Drivers will be free from the tyranny of red-light speeding tickets until at least the summer of next year. If you get one of these tickets, however, we recommend you hire a lawyer to fight it. Speeding tickets in BC are usually around $368.

BC Driving Lawyers has achieved positive outcomes in traffic court for countless clients. If you get a ticket for running a red light issued by a camera at an intersection. These devices mistakenly issue tickets all the time and they are open to dispute.

Call us today on 604-608-1200.