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Yes, you have to pay speed zone camera tickets in Spokane

While the city of Spokane makes money from speed zone cameras, it doesn't own the equipment or process the tickets. We Verify why you still need to pay any fines.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Red light and speed zone cameras are a point of controversy across the nation. Police say they’re effective in reducing crashes and getting people to slow down around kids, but some drivers question if they are legal.

Several viewers reached out to the KREM 2 Verify Team to ask about some new school zone speed cameras that went up in Spokane. They want to know if they have to pay the infractions, since the cameras and citations are operated by 3rd party vendor and not the city of Spokane.


“Do you have to pay traffic light picture tickets that are billed form an out of state address?” from KREM 2 viewer Sam.


  • Washington State Law
  • Spokane Police Department
  • Attorney Dean Chuang


This is true.

Yes, we can verify, even though red light and speed zone cameras are processed by a third-party out-of-state vendor, you still have to pay them.

State law makes it clear that the city can place the cameras in specific areas, including school zones, and despite past legal challenges to the program, the courts recognize the tickets as valid.


Three new school zone speed cameras went up outside of schools on the south hill this year. That brings the total number of speed cameras to eight city-wide, along with 15 red-light cameras that monitor 10 intersections.

The city of Spokane leases the newest cameras from a third-party vendor, Arizona-based, Verra Mobility, which also processes the violations sent to drivers.

To be clear the cameras are perfectly legal under Washington Law. RCW. 46.63.170 allows for the use of safety cameras in several areas including stop lights and school zones.

But, since they’re processed by a third-party vendor, are you required to pay for the ticket? Attorney Dean Chuang says, “yes.”

In 2011, Chuang successfully argued to tickets generated by red light and speed cameras were not valid, because – at the time – they weren’t first signed by an officer in Spokane before they were mailed to a driver.

“So, when you issue an infraction you have to sign it under penalty of perjury and that location of the signing actually has to be the actual place that you were at,” Chuang explained. “They were signing it out of Tucson I believe, but the officer initiating the signature was actually in Spokane, so that was deemed invalid by superior court.”

But, following that ruling, SPD changed its process. Now, each ticket is reviewed and signed electronically by an officer in Spokane before the infractions are mailed out. Sgt. Teresa Fuller, who runs SPD’s traffic division, said the courts have since come to recognize electronic signatures as a valid way to sign tickets.

“It’s the same as a ticket I would hand you in person now,” Sgt. Fuller said. “I don't even sign those. It’s all electronic and the court recognizes that as a feasible option for us.”

So, we can verify that, even though red light and speed zone cameras are processed out of state, you still have to pay fines from them.

Fines, penalties, and what to do if your ticket isn't valid

Fines for speed zone violation range from a couple hundred to 450. A red-light camera ticket will cost you 139 bucks.

Sgt. Fuller says to think of the ticket as a parking violation. They don’t go on your driving or employment record. So, what happens if you don’t pay them?

“If you don’t pay it or don't respond to it they’ll do a default judgment against you, people receive probably collections letters from another big firm out of state, and then if you don't pay that they’re going to treat it as a parking violation and then in the end if it gets recorded to the department of licensing you can’t renew your registration,” Chuang explained.

However, if you think the ticket you were issued is not valid, you do have options.

Those include requesting a mitigation hearing to argue why you think the ticket was invalid or to ask for a break in terms of the fine.

If you weren’t the actual driver at the time – maybe you just sold your car and the new owner hadn’t registered it yet, you can sign an affidavit to say you weren’t the driver. But, keep in mind you sign that under penalty of perjury so lying is a big deal.

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