Arlington Adjusts to Life After Red Light Cameras

New questions are emerging after voters in Arlington approved a ban on red light cameras. Among them, what happens to all the outstanding tickets still out there?

At the intersection of Cooper Street and Park Row Drive, two red light cameras that were once among the most active in Arlington sit still.

On May 9, voters approved a ban on the controversial devices. City officials say they began honoring that decision immediately.

"Any violation that might have happened after May 9 was not processed or reviewed by the Arlington Police Department," said Jay Warren, spokesperson for the City of Arlington.

Tickets issued on or before May 9, however, are still valid and drivers are expected to pay the fines.
"If you received that violation in the mail, you have 30 days to appeal through the normal appeal process," said Warren.

The city has also started the process of terminating a 15-year contract with American Traffic Solutions, the vendor that installed and operated the cameras in Arlington. City leaders sent the company a letter last week.

"We told them we were exercising our 90-day clause that allows us to end the contracts," said Warren.

Some have been concerned that ATS may try to take legal action against the city for terminating the contract early.

In a statement to NBC 5, a company spokesperson said, "ATS is grateful for having had an opportunity to work with the City of Arlington on this important public safety program. We're proud of our contribution to enhancing the safety of Arlington intersections. Pursuant to the city's request, the cameras have been turned off. We will now work with the city to ensure that the contractual obligations of all parties are met."

Warren said it will be up to ATS to remove the cameras. It's unclear when that will take place.

And as they phase out, so will the 26 jobs for which the red light fines paid. Three administrative positions have already been eliminated. Two of them were vacant, and one employee was transferred to fill a different position. The remaining 23 positions are police officer jobs. City leaders will use reserve funds to keep them on through the remainder of the fiscal year.

"City leaders will be looking down and saying, 'What are our overall budgetary priorities during that time?' And certainly may consider a more long-term solution to maintaining that police level," said Warren.

While the city can encourage drivers to pay outstanding fines, enforcing them may prove to be difficult. Red light tickets are considered civil penalties, not criminal penalties – therefore, violators cannot be arrested or have their driving record docked for not paying them.

State law does allow county tax assessor/collector offices to put a hold on a driver's vehicle registration until the fines are paid. However, the Tarrant County Tax Assessor / Collector's office has said it won't enforce that rule, because that would require extra money and resources it doesn't have.

Warren said the city does not report delinquent fines to credit reporting agencies.

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