Are red light cameras legal in California? Under the current law, yes. Though legitimate questions have been raised about the constitutionality of red light cameras, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to take up the matter. Despite some minor changes to state red light camera laws in 2019, they are still legally functioning in communities all across California.

If you’ve already received a red light camera ticket, it may be in your interest to hire a traffic attorney. However, if you haven’t yet received a ticket and would like to avoid getting any in the future, it may be helpful to learn all you can about red light cameras.

How They Work


Unlike a security camera, red light cameras do not record all the time. Rather, there are sensors built into the road near the stop line. Tripping these sensors by driving over them when the light is red triggers the camera to take a picture. In California, the cameras will take two pictures, one from behind and one from the front, because in order for a red light camera ticket to be enforceable, authorities need a picture that clearly shows your face.

How To Recognize Them

This may be more difficult than you expect because there may be several types of cameras mounted at intersections. In addition to red light cameras, speed cameras also record moving violations for ticketing purposes. However, there are also sensor cameras that determine stoplight timing by measuring traffic flow. These cameras are not used to generate traffic tickets.

There are several ways to tell the difference between an automatic enforcement camera and a monitoring camera:

  • Enforcement cameras are mounted at busy intersections.
  • They often have external flashes mounted on separate poles.
  • They are usually housed in bulky metal boxes for protection.

How To Challenge a Ticket


Red light cameras are notoriously inaccurate. For a ticket to be enforceable, the photo must not only clearly show your face and your license plate number. Find out more about how a red light ticket lawyer may be able to help you avoid paying any penalties.