Houston Could Nix Red Light Cameras…Again

Despite the outcry over red light cameras and the possibility they'll be turned off for good — most people actually pay the fine for running a red. There are fewer scofflaws when it comes to red light cameras than you might think.

It’s possible that in just a few days the highly controversial red light camera program will be dead, this time for good.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker will hold a special meeting on Friday to ask city council to repeal the red light camera ordinance.

But during the program’s entire duration, the vast majority of people who were ticketed, 71 percent, actually paid. Just 29 percent haven’t paid their fines. And there’s little consequence for not paying. The city can request that your vehicle registration be withheld until you pay the fine. But counties in the region don’t enforce that rule.

This is Harris County Tax-Assessor Collector Don Sumners.

“My position has always been that it is not a proper function of the county to try to enforce the city’s ordinance. And of course, with all the controversy involved around how the ordinance was put into effect and has come in and gone out and come in and gone out — my position has been that I would not hold up registrations.”

Harris County isn’t alone in that position.  

Galveston, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Montgomery Counties also don’t place holds on registrations; although, Montgomery County officials will consider adding red light cameras and a multitude of other violations to the items they flag, but only if there’s a demand for it from cities in their jurisdiction.

Houston councilmembers will consider two separate items this week on red light cameras — one to resolve the contract dispute with the camera vendor and another to do away with the red light camera ordinance altogether.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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