Received a Red Light Camera Citation In The Mail?

January 9, 2018 – Published by Robinson Law Firm

It’s just after the New Year Holiday. You are going through mail that was just delivered, looking for bills from the holidays when you discover an official looking “Notice of Red Light Camera Violation” from the City of Greenville.  You open the Notice and see a close-up picture of the front and rear of your vehicle.  You read further to learn that your vehicle ran a red light at a particular intersection 10 days earlier.  You don’t remember driving your vehicle during the time noted, but do remember that your spouse as well as your children who were home for the holidays borrowed your vehicle during that time.  The City is demanding payment of a $100 penalty.  What’s the deal?

Overview Of The Red Light Safety Camera Program.

The City of Greenville contracted with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to implement the red light safety camera program on October 15, 2017.  Ten red light safety cameras are installed at five different intersections:  Charles Boulevard and 14th Street; Charles Boulevard and Fire Tower Road; Arlington Boulevard and Fire Tower Road; Arlington Boulevard and Greenville Boulevard; and Arlington Boulevard and Memorial Drive.  The cost of the program is $2.5 million.  Warnings were issued for 30 days after October 15th.  Now if the automated red light camera captures a vehicle entering the intersection while the light is red, a Notice of Red Light Camera Violation will be issued and sent to the owner of the vehicle by first-class mail.  The owner has 30 days to pay the $100 penalty or file a notice of appeal with the City contesting the penalty.  Of the $100 collected, $31.85 (32%) will be paid to ATS and $68.15 (68%) will be paid to the Pitt County School Board.  However, the School Board is required to reimburse the City $75,000.00 for an officer to administer the program.

What Legal Authority Is There For The Red Light Safety Camera Program In Greenville?

You violate North Carolina General Statute Section 20-158 if you run a red light.  The penalty includes $188.00 in court costs and a $50.00 fine if you waive your appearance in court.  One insurance point is assigned (30% increase in insurance premium) and 3 motor vehicle points for a conviction.  By legislative enactment, specific municipalities are allowed to enforce the stoplight law by adoption of a city ordinance that allows for civil enforcement by means of a traffic control photographic system, commonly known as “red light cameras”.  On June 30, 2016, North Carolina General Statute Section 160A-300.1 (G.S. § 160A-300.1) was amended to allow Greenville to enact such an ordinance and collect a $100 penalty from the registered owner of the vehicle.  On September 8, 2016, the Greenville City Council enacted City Code 10-2-281 et. seq., entitled “Traffic Control Photographic Systems.” The City Council also approved the contract with ATS, and the agreement with the Pitt County School Board for the division of penalty proceeds.

How Do The Red Light Safety Cameras Work?

The red light cameras are installed near the traffic signal light, but operate independently of the traffic signal itself.  The camera system does not have the ability to control the timing of the traffic light or the timing of the yellow light.  Sensors detect when the signal light turns red and then vehicle motion prior to the white stop line marking the intersection.  The system takes two pictures of the alleged violation. One of the vehicle at the white line and the second of the vehicle in the intersection with the light illuminated red.  There is also a close up image of the license plate The date and time are recorded as well as the duration of the yellow and red lights.  Cameras also record a 12 second video: 6 seconds prior to running the red light and 6 second after the violation.

What Are Your Options If You Receive A Notice Of Violation?

If you do not wish to contest the Notice of Violation, you can pay the $100 penalty within 30 days after the date the Notice is mailed.  You can make payment online at, by mail at the address on the Notice, by phone at 1-866-790-4111, or in person at the Greenville Police South Zone Substation at 728 SW Greenville Boulevard.  If you wish to contest the Notice you must file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the date the Notice is mailed.  The City Ordinance allows you to contest the violation, assert that another person was in the care, custody, or control of your vehicle, assert that your vehicle was stolen at the time, or that you did not receive the Notice within 90 days of the violation.  If you do not pay the penalty or file an appeal within 30 days, an additional $100 penalty is assessed.

What Are The Consequences Of A Notice Violation?

The only consequence is the penalty of $100, and an additional $100 penalty if not paid or contested within 30 days.  The violation is civil not criminal and will not appear on any criminal background check.  The violation is not reported to the Division of Motor Vehicles or insurance companies.  The violation does not result in the assignment of motor vehicle or insurance points.  The violation will not affect your driver license or vehicle registration.

Are There Any Legal Issues With The Greenville Red Light Camera Program?

Yes!  The most significant problem is the allocation of the penalty between ATS, the City of Greenville, and the Pitt County School Board.  Shavitz v. High Point, 177 N.C. App. 465, 630 S.E.2d 4 (2006) held that the School Board was entitled to 90% of the penalty proceeds pursuant Article IX, Section 7 of the North Carolina Constitution and North Carolina General Statute Section 115C-437.  G.S. § 160A-3001 was amended in an attempt to defeat this holding, but it is opined that the 90/10 division should still govern the allocation of the penalty collected.  The City cannot impose a late fee penalty of $100 because the statute authorizing the City to enact the ordinance limits the penalty to $100.  There are also additional issues of whether the non-payment of the penalty can be legally reported to a credit agency under the federal Credit Reporting Act and whether the City has legal standing to collect an unpaid penalty.  A legal challenge to Greenville’s Red Light Camera program has already been filed.

How Can The Robinson Law Firm, P.A. Help You.

For over 30 years, we have helped those charged with traffic offenses win their cases, avoid the loss of their driver license, and avoid the assessment of insurance and motor vehicle points.  We are aggressive and thorough in our investigation, innovative and groundbreaking in our defense strategies, and relentless in our pursuit of a victory on your behalf. 

If you have any questions about Greenville’s Red Light Camera Program or any other traffic citation or criminal charge, contact us today.  Initial consultations are always free of charge.

Let us help you win your case.