West Virginia Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras are illegal in West Virginia, but you can still be fined up to $500 and assigned three demerit points for speeding through a red light.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
While red light cameras are illegal in West Virginia, running a red light can still result in a fine of up to $500 and three demerit points added to your driving record.
Running a red light
or a stop sign may not seem like a big deal, but each year, these violations are responsible for more deaths and serious injuries than most other traffic accidents.
The installation of red light cameras at high-traffic intersections has proven useful across much of the United States to catch offenders and reduce the frequency of accidents. However, some states, like West Virginia, ban the use of photo-monitoring devices to record traffic violations.
Red light tickets can have a heavy fine attached to them, and the process of disputing them can be daunting.
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No—according to
chapter 17C section 6-7A
of the West Virginia Code, the use of traffic law photo-monitoring devices to detect or prove traffic law violations is prohibited. That includes any electronic system that uses photo, video, or electronic camera activity to sense the presence of a car and automatically generate photos, videos, or digital images. 
On top of that, police offers are also prohibited from using traffic law photo-monitoring devices to detect traffic law violations involving motor vehicles. If an officer does issue a red light camera ticket, they may not use that photo evidence against you. 
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What should I do if I receive a red light ticket?

The fines for running a red light or failing to stop at a stop sign in West Virginia are steep. A conviction carries the following fines:
  • $100 for a first conviction within one year
  • $200 for a second conviction within one year
  • $500 for a third or subsequent conviction
A red light or stop sign conviction also comes with the addition of three demerit points on your West Virginia driving record. Accumulation of 12 or more points can result in a minimum 30-day license suspension. However, some eligible drivers may complete a
defensive driving course
to reduce the demerit points.
That said, running a red light or stop sign that results in injury or death can lead to more serious charges such as
reckless driving
or negligent homicide.
In West Virginia, there are two options if you receive a red light ticket: you can pay the fine or fight the ticket. Both approaches offer their own advantages, and the penalties you face will be determined by the path you choose, so we’re breaking down what you should know about both to help you choose the best option. 

How to pay a red light ticket 

Fighting a red light ticket can be a hassle, so some people opt to just pay the fine. For most tickets, the fine can be paid online, by mail, or in person at the address listed on the ticket. Some courts may offer payment plans if you can’t afford the ticket amount in full. 
Know that when you choose to pay a red light ticket, you are admitting guilt. This:
  • Waives your right to fight the ticket in court
  • May result in license suspension depending on your driving record
  • May increase your car insurance premium

How to fight a red light ticket

If you want to plead not guilty to the traffic violation and avoid having points against your driving record, you can request a contested hearing at the courthouse by ticking the appropriate checkbox on your ticket. It can then be mailed to the courthouse at the address listed on the ticket. Tickets may also be contested by phone. 
The other option you have to fight your red light ticket is to hire a traffic ticket lawyer. They can help you avoid fines, license suspension, and increased insurance premiums. In general, you can expect a traffic ticket lawyer to:
  • Request a contested hearing
  • Request discovery for your case
  • Represent you in court
  • Negotiate to have your charges dropped or reduced
Only about 5% of people cited with a driving ticket choose this option.

How does a red light camera work?

Red light cameras are installed at intersections with higher than usual instances of drivers running red lights to capture photo or video footage of offenders violating traffic laws. Red light cameras are connected to traffic lights and sensors that monitor traffic flow, and these sensors are placed before the crosswalk or stop line in a lane. 
The system continuously monitors traffic signals, and when a vehicle enters the intersection on a red light, the camera or video is triggered. 
If you run a red light, these cameras capture the following information: 
  • Your license plate number 
  • Vehicle speed
  • Amount of time since the light turned red
  • Date, time, and location of the incident 
This data is analyzed and sent to law enforcement agencies to issue red light tickets to drivers who run red lights, make illegal turns, or commit other traffic violations. 
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
found that using red light cameras can reduce fatal crashes at intersections in major cities by 14%. Because of this high success rate, many states permit the use of red light cameras as a method of traffic enforcement—although West Virginia is not yet one of them.

How to find affordable car insurance in West Virginia

While the fines attached to red light tickets aren’t exorbitant in West Virginia, the chances of it raising your premium are pretty high. Rather than accepting what you’re handed, it may be time to shop for a new policy that can save you money. 
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Red light cameras are illegal in West Virginia, so you should never get a ticket related to these cameras. You can still get a legitimate ticket for running a red light, though. Keep an eye out for tickets that are sent by email or phone—authentic traffic tickets should be issued by the West Virginia Department of Transportation through the mail
If you receive a ticket that looks suspicious, check with your local DMV to ensure the ticket is legitimate before paying any fines.
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