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Police: Red light camera program

In the early 1990s, Howard County police recognized that there was a problem in our community. Our citizens were being injured and sometimes killed in intersection crashes. We decided to utilize a problem-oriented policing approach to address the issue.

Our scan of crash data revealed several underlying crash causes. In partnership with traffic engineers and community members, we analyzed these crashes and the environment in which we operated. While working on long-term research, we responded with new strategies. Collectively, we assessed the impact of our efforts.

We ultimately decided to take the step of enforcing red light violations by using automated camera systems. We established a unique and successful public-private partnership to create an automated enforcement strategy.

We reached out to other police operations and now operate the only regional automated enforcement center, where 12 police agencies work together.

The bottom line is this: It is working. The number of crashes has fallen as the number of people running red lights has dropped.


Citation numbers beginning with "290": Click here to pay online  

NOTE: There is a $2.00 convenience fee for online Red Light Camera citation payments. The fee is automatically added during the online transaction.



History of the red light camera program  


Frequently asked questions


Where are red light cameras located in Howard County?
Brokenland Parkway at Cradlerock Way
Brokenland Parkway at Snowden River Parkway
Brokenland Parkway at Stevens Forrest Road
Cedar Lane at Freetown Road
Cedar Lane at Hickory Ridge Road
Dobbin Road at Dobbin Center Way
Governor Warfield Parkway at Windstream Drive
Little Patuxent Parkway at Banneker Road
Little Patuxent Parkway at Brokenland Parkway
Little Patuxent Parkway at Columbia Road
Little Patuxent Parkway at Columbia Road (left turn lane)
Little Patuxent Parkway at Governor Warfield Parkway
Little Patuxent Parkway at Harpers Farm Road
Snowden River Parkway at Berger Road
Snowden River Parkway at McGaw Road 
Snowden River Parkway at Oakland Mills Road
Snowden River Parkway at Dried Earth Boulevard
U.S. 1 at Corridor Road/Howard Street
U.S. 40 at Ridge Road
U.S. 40 at St. Johns Lane
 Locations subject to change / Current as of November 2014  


How many red light cameras are currently in operation in Howard County?
As of November 2014, there are 21 red light cameras in use in the county. Some intersections have multiple cameras. There have been 44 camera sites constructed and placed in service in the county since 1998.  Some camera sites have subsequently been de-activated when red light violations and red light running collisions have decreased sufficiently.


How do red light cameras work?
Howard County police use digital automated red light enforcement technology. Above-ground LIDAR and/or RADAR technologies monitor an approaching vehicle's position and speed as it nears the white stop line of an intersection. If the approaching vehicle exceeds a preset speed and location, the camera system initiates a high-resolution photograph sequence to capture evidence of a potential violation. In 2009, the Howard County Department of Police upgraded its red light cameras to include video in addition to still photographs. The photograph and video evidence is reviewed by numerous contracted employees prior to being submitted to Howard County police as a possible violation. Thereafter, trained Howard County Department of Police civilians or sworn officers carefully review the evidence to decide if all criteria were met to issue a citation before making a final determination. Finally, in an added quality control step, the citations are again reviewed for accuracy and clarity in hard-copy format before mailing.


How much has been collected in fines?
Since program’s inception in February 1998, we have issued approximately 337,474 citations. Our collection rate has been averaging approximately 93 percent. In 2010, the program cost approximately $1.3 million for the county to operate. Proceeds are deposited in the county’s general fund. 



Red Light Camera Program Citations & Fines 


Citations issued 

Fines collected 








































2011 27,436 $1,942,387
2012 28,367 $1,943,654
2013 29,794 $2,016,167



How often are camera locations assessed?
Howard County police and the county Traffic Engineering department meet several times each year to assess what intersections throughout the county warrant the introduction of a red light camera. Before a camera is installed, traffic engineers have attempted to eliminate red light running collisions by altering signal timing or adjusting traffic flow in another manner. Adding a camera is the final solution after other engineering measures have been attempted.
What does a red light camera look like?

The camera and laser devices are contained in white metal boxes mounted on metal poles. Some intersections feature signs indicating that red light camera enforcement is in use, however, the signs do not appear at every site. Maryland law does not require the county to mark intersections where red light cameras are operated with signs.
Do red light cameras reduce collisions at intersections where they are used?

A 2008 study (the most recent available) by the county Traffic Engineering department showed an overall collision reduction of 29 percent. Right-angle collisions have been reduced by 55 percent. The same study also showed an overall reduction of rear-end collisions at sites where the cameras are used. 
Can the cameras be used to enforce other violations, such as not wearing a seat belt, texting while driving or speeding?

No. Maryland law prohibits the use of red light cameras for any other purpose other than enforcing red light camera violations.
If I come to a stop after the white line, will I be issued a citation?

Yes. If a vehicle crosses completely over the white stop line while facing a red signal, a violation has occurred. However, if the driver only partially crosses the stop line before coming to a stop, Howard County does not issue a citation.
If I am in the intersection when the light turns red, will I be issued a citation?

If your vehicle has crossed the white stop line and entered the intersection while the light is amber and then the light turns red while the vehicle is still in the intersection, a citation will not be issued.
Will I be issued a citation for not coming to a stop before making a right turn on red?

Howard County red light cameras do not monitor right turn lanes. However, if a police officer observes a vehicle failing to make a complete stop at a red light before making a right turn, the officer may issue a traffic citation.
Where is the citation sent? How long after a violation will the ticket be sent?

The citation is sent to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner that is listed with MVA. Citations are required by law to be mailed within 14 days of the violation. Howard County usually mails citations five to eight days after the violation has occurred.
What information will be displayed on the citation?

The citation will include three pictures showing the vehicle committing the violation and the vehicle’s tag number. It will include the exact date, time and location of the violation, a violation number, the amount due, the due date and instructions for paying the fine or requesting a court date. The vehicle’s speed, the road’s speed limit, the length of the amber light in seconds and how long the light had been red when the violation took place are included. It also includes a signature of the certified Howard County police civilian employee who reviewed the images and determined if the criteria to issue a citation had been met. Additionally, red light citations now include a link to a web site where you can view a video of the violation.
Who is responsible to pay the ticket: the owner of the vehicle or the person who was driving when the citation was issued?

Similar to a parking ticket, the registered owner of the vehicle is the responsible party, regardless of who was driving the vehicle at the time the citation was issued.
Can I dispute the citation?

When you receive a citation, you have the option to pay the fine or request a court date. If you wish to contest the citation, you are required by law to mail a request to the police Automated Enforcement Division by five days prior to the payment due date. You will be mailed a notice of court date, time and location. If you appear in court, the maximum amount you can be charged is a $100 fine and $22.50 in court costs. Failure to pay the penalty or to contest the citation in court may result in the refusal or suspension of the vehicle registration. The vehicle’s registered owner is then liable for the motor vehicle flagging fee and monthly administrative handling fee.  
What fines are imposed for a red light citation?

The initial fine is $75. If the fine is not paid, a $10 late fee is assessed each month for up to three consecutive months. The maximum fine is $105. You have three options to pay the fine. You may pay your red light camera citation online.  Major credit cards are accepted. There is a small convenience fee for the online payment service. You may also mail a check for the amount due, along with a form included with the citation, to Howard County Red Light, PO Box 37236, Baltimore, MD 21297-3236. You may also go in person and may at the Howard County Office of Finance, 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If the citizen contests the citation in court and is found guilty, the judge has the authority to impose a fine anywhere between $0 and $100 + $22.50 for court costs.  Maximum potential liability for standing trial would be $122.50. Failure to pay the penalty or to contest the citation in court may result in the refusal or suspension of the vehicle registration. The vehicle’s registered owner is then liable for the motor vehicle flagging fee and monthly administrative handling fee.
Will this go on my driving record? Will I be assessed points? Will it affect my insurance?

Red light camera citations are civil citations, not moving violations, similar to parking tickets. They are not reflected on driving records. No points are assessed. Insurance companies are not allowed to access red light camera violation information.

How can I contact the Howard County Red Light Camera Program?
The office telephone number is 410-313-3216.