Minnesota Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras aren’t used in Minnesota, but you can still get a ticket.
Written by Cassandra Hamilton
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
outlaws red light cameras, but that doesn’t mean there are no consequences for running a light. You can still get ticketed for going through a red light.
 Red light cameras capture photo and video evidence of traffic violations at city intersections. Many states use these cameras to reduce the rate of fatal accidents at busy intersections. Not every state uses red light cameras, though.
 Nineteen states either have no laws on red light cameras, or laws that outlaw red light cameras. Minnesota is one of the states that outlaws red light cameras. However, if you are observed by two officers while running a light, you can still get a ticket.
 You could end up owing $300 in fines for a red light ticket in Minnesota. If you feel you’ve mistakenly received a ticket, you have options.
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Red light cameras are illegal in Minnesota. Instead, the state uses red light enforcement lights—also called blue lights—to enforce red light violations. Two of these blue lights are attached to the backside of a traffic light pole, and they light up when a vehicle enters the intersection after the light has turned red.
 It takes two officers to enforce red light running laws—one to observe the lights, and the other to pursue the offending vehicle.

What should I do if I receive a red light ticket?

Minnesota allows vehicles to sometimes move through red lights—like if you’re making a right turn on red, unless there is signage that explicitly prohibits you from doing so. You can also turn left on red from a one-way street onto another one-way street if you come to a complete stop and yield to oncoming traffic.
 You can pass through an intersection during a yellow light, but you must come to a complete stop at all stop signs before proceeding through the intersection.
 Violation of any of these laws is a petty misdemeanor and can lead to a ticket and fines up to $300, plus surcharges. You can either admit guilt and pay the fine, or challenge the ticket in court. We’ll talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

How to pay a red light ticket 

Not everyone wants to deal with the hassle of challenging a ticket. Paying a ticket in Minnesota is simple—you can mail a check or money order to the address on the ticket, pay online, or pay over the phone. You can use a credit or bank card in addition to checks and money orders for payment.
 You can also pay in cash if you go to the courthouse. Be aware, though, that paying the fine is seen as an admission of guilt, which can lead to your license getting suspended or an increase in your car insurance rates. You will no longer be eligible to challenge the ticket in court, either.
 If you can’t afford to pay the entire fine upfront, you can go before a judge in a mitigation hearing. The judge could decide that instead of paying the fine, you pay a reduced fine, start a monthly payment plan, or perform community service

How to fight a red light ticket

If you think your red light ticket is a mistake, you can request a contested hearing by checking the correct box on the back of your ticket and mailing it to the court. 
 One in four tickets is issued in error, but only 5% of drivers fight the tickets. You can increase your winning odds by hiring a traffic ticket attorney. This can help you avoid fines, license suspension, and insurance rate increases. Your attorney will:
  • Request a contested hearing
  • Request discovery for your case
  • Represent you in court
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor to have your charges dropped or reduced

How does a red light camera work?

Red light cameras use the traffic light’s built-in sensors to trigger video and photo footage of vehicles that enter the intersection after the light has changed. Committing a traffic violation at a red light equipped with a camera will cause the camera to record your license plate number with other information such as:
  • Date and time of the incident 
  • Vehicle speed
  • Location
  • Amount of time since the light turned red
 Most red light cameras are operated by third-party companies. These companies send footage to law enforcement agencies, who use the information to issue traffic citations. Common violations are running a red light and performing an illegal turn during a red light.
 A study conducted by the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
found that there is a 14% reduction in fatal crashes in the intersections where red light cameras are used. States and cities use this study to justify the use of red light cameras.

How to find affordable car insurance in Minnesota

If you’re convicted of running a red light or stop sign in Minnesota, your car insurance premiums will go up. An increase in rates is always a smart time to shop around for new insurance policies that might give you a better rate.
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Double-check your ticket to see if it’s because of a red light camera or if it’s a blue light ticket. Blue light tickets are most likely real, but due to red light cameras being illegal in Minnesota, those are a scam. You can always call the court to verify your ticket.
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