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L.A. County red-light violation fines have jumped 65% to $446, Times review finds

February 4, 2010 |  7:14 am

Redlights In less than eight years, fines for red-light traffic violations in Los Angeles County have jumped nearly 65% from an average of $271 to $446.

With traffic school fees, the total now exceeds $500. Ever-vigilant photo enforcement programs run by nearly 30 agencies across the county have added a new degree of efficiency to catching violators and capturing revenue to fund a variety of government programs.

In November alone, Los Angeles County’s Superior Court system processed payments on an estimated 13,000 red-light camera tickets. And local agencies with camera systems generated nearly $1.6 million in revenue, with an even larger portion of the red-light camera fines going to a combination of state and judicial programs, according to the estimates obtained by The Times.

Critics say the fines have become excessive and mainly a means for camera companies and cities to raise money. But some police and traffic officials, as well as motorists, contend the penalties properly reflect the serious injuries, death and property damage that can result from drivers running red lights.

Los Angeles' red-light traffic camera program, which officials report netted more than $6 million last year after expenses, could be significantly expanded under a new contract to be negotiated over the next 14 months.

Although adding more cameras could offer a welcome boost to city revenue in the midst of a fiscal crisis, officials say any expansion will be based on safety considerations.

No goal has been set, but internal City Hall discussions have included the possibility of adding cameras to blocks of eight intersections at a time and eventually doubling the overall reach of the program to 64 intersections, Los Angeles Police Department officials told The Times.

-- Rich Connell

Chart credit: Los Angeles County Superior Court

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