Frequently Asked Questions


What if I do not have a front license plate on my vehicle? Will I get a ticket?

The camera system in San Diego takes multiple photos of the front and rear of the vehicle. Whichever license plate is legible will be used for the citation.


What happens if I'm in the intersection when the light changes color?

You will only receive a citation if you enter the intersection after the signal turns red. If you find yourself "trapped" in the intersection while the signal turns from yellow to red, you will not get a citation. It is good driving practice (and the law) to not enter an intersection unless you will be able to exit it, to avoid gridlock, so it's best to try to avoid getting trapped in the intersection in the first place.


How much is the citation?

The cost of the citation varies, based on your driving record. Citations for running a red light are a minimum of $480. This will increase if the citation is not paid within 30 days. The County Court will mail out a separate notice with the exact amount of your citation.

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What if the registered owner of the vehicle was not the driver at the time of the violation?

If you did not own or were not driving the vehicle at the time of the violation, please fill out the information in the Affidavit of Non-Liability form of the citation. This will identify the actual driver. The Affidavit of Non-Liability form must be completely filled out and returned to ATS at P.O. Box 22091, Tempe, AZ, 85285-2091, at least ten days prior to the appearance date. Do not send the Affidavit of Non-Liability form to the court. The citation will then be re-issued to the correct violator. A copy of the Affidavit of Non-Liability Form is available at www.ViolationInfo.com


What if I received a citation for a vehicle I had previously sold?

The individual should complete the Affidavit of Non-Liability Form with the new owner's information (included with the citation) and return it to ATS at P.O. Box 22091, Tempe, AZ, 85285-2091.


Will this system also enforce speed violations?

No. The system is not designed to enforce speed violations, nor does it use radar to detect a vehicle's speed.


Will I have an opportunity to review the photographs with an officer?

Yes. You can call (858) 573-5055 to schedule an appointment to view photographs of the violation. Viewing days will be pre-designated weekdays, and will be held at the San Diego Police Department Traffic Division, located at 9265 Aero Drive, San Diego, CA 92123. Unscheduled visitors may also be able to view photographs, but only at the availability of the office staff


Isn't this a "speed trap?"

No. Speed, though determined electronically, is not used to establish the violation of running the red light. A photograph, clearly depicting the violation and position of the violator's vehicle at the time of the signal change, establishes all the elements necessary for the violation.


How long is the yellow light?

The length of the yellow light is determined by the posted speed approaching the intersection. In the City of San Diego the minimum length for a yellow light is 3.9 seconds for a through movement in the intersection and 3.4 seconds for a turn. The national standard is 3 seconds. Most of our intersections have longer yellow time but each intersection is individually set.


What if the camera took a picture and I did not run the light?

The photos from the automated camera system include the traffic signal indication. The system also identifies the vehicle running the red light. An officer reviewing the photos will clearly be able to see if a driver is running a red light.

If you entered the intersection on a green or yellow indication, you did not trigger the camera. It may have been a vehicle behind you or in another lane that triggered the system. We have found that some vehicles turn right with out stopping for the red light and trigger the camera. In most cases, as you are turning left, or traveling straight through the intersection you may not notice someone turning right at the intersection.

The camera system is very sensitive. If a vehicle approaches and stops quickly, it can trigger the camera. The camera system is set for a vehicle traveling at or above a minimum speed where it is assumed the driver is not going to stop. However, there are occasions where the camera system can detect if the vehicle is about to stop, and the system will erase the photos it had just taken. If you stop behind the limit line, you will not be issued a violation notice. The series of four photos and short video will clearly show that you stopped.

The system is also checked every day. The camera is remotely triggered to check each of the cameras and flash units. This will occur when a vehicle travels through on a green indication. Again, the photos will clearly show there was no violation, and no citation will be issued.