Red Light Cameras Are Illegal In Texas. So Is Amarillo Breaking The Law?
Ah yes, those pesky red light cameras.
You see the light turn yellow, you look around to see if the cameras are watching, then you decide whether or not to blow through the red light.
Yes, if it's red and you roll through it, you have broken the law and are subject to a ticket.
Did you know though that if a camera snaps your pic in Texas, it isn't legal?
A couple of months ago, I wrote where to find all the red light cameras here in Amarillo.
What I didn't realize at the time was that red light cameras are unlawful in Texas and shouldn't even be a thing. So what say you Amarillo?
TEXAS TRANSPORTATION CODE 707.021
So it was all the way back in 2019 (I know, only a couple years ago) when legislation was passed disallowing the use of any photographic traffic cameras or enforcement in the state. Here's the actual law:
“A local authority may not issue a civil or criminal charge or citation for an offense or violation based on a recorded image produced by a photographic traffic signal enforcement system.”
Pretty much says it all right there doesn't it? Well...it's not as cut and dried as it seems.
SO WHY DO WE STILL HAVE RED LIGHT CAMERAS?
When the legislation was passed, there was a bit of a clause in it. It stated that places that were under third party contracts for cameras that were installed and active were exempt until their contracts with them ran out.
Well guess what...Amarillo was one of those cities. When the legislation was passed, Amarillo city officials stated that the red light cameras here would continue to be active and enforceable. And that still stands today.
WHEN DO THE CAMERAS GO AWAY IN AMARILLO?
Well the contract the city has is active until September 2022, and breaking the contract would've cost the taxpayers around $500,000 according to former Director of Public Works Raymond Lee.
I don't think that's something us taxpayers would've wanted to pay to get out of, therefore the camera systems remain in place and active.
After September though, the cameras will have to be turned off and you'll no longer receive a ticket from them. That's not to say it's ok to start blowing through red lights because they're gone, I mean it's still illegal to do. You can just rest easier about not getting snapped if you don't manage to get through the light fully once it's red.