Automated Photo Enforcement Program - Red Light Cameras

In late July 2006, the City of Seattle initiated a 12-month pilot project designed to test the effectiveness of traffic safety cameras – also known as red light cameras – at selected arterial intersections. The purpose of the project was to gauge the extent to which these cameras might reduce the frequency of red light running and associated collisions, events which have become all too frequent in recent years, not only in Seattle but throughout the country.

Altogether, six camera systems were deployed at four intersections in the pilot project. After 12 months, through July 23, 2007, 16,539 citations were issued. The Final Evaluation Report, summarizes the results of the pilot and evaluates the performance of the red light cameras and the City's red light camera vendor, American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS) of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Based on the favorable findings of the pilot project, the City approved a significant expansion of the program in 2008, 2009, and 2013 involving the addition of 25 new cameras at intersections throughout Seattle. Four factors were weighed in choosing locations for the new cameras: right-angle crashes, serious pedestrian injuries, the frequency of red light running based on video observation, and geographic distribution.

With the completion of construction in September 2013, the City now has 31 "red light" traffic safety cameras operating at 23 different arterials intersections. 

How do the cameras work?

The Axsis RLC-300 camera system used by ATS has three basic components: a high resolution camera for taking still, color photos, a video camera that provides a broader view of the offending vehicle and any other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists in the intersection, and a vehicle sensing device that activates the still cameras and captures video of approaching vehicles that the system "predicts" will violate a red signal.

Red Ligth Camera

The stills show the vehicle behind the stop line with the traffic signal showing red in the image #1 photo and the same vehicle fully beyond the stop line with the traffic signal still showing red in image #2 photo. These two photos, together with a cropped image of the vehicle license plate are included in the citation (also known as the notice of infraction (NOI)) that is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. The still photos and video clip of the event are available to police reviewers, court personnel, and registered owners via secure ATS Internet Web site. All photos and video only show the vehicle from the rear, as Washington law prohibits taking images of the faces of vehicle driver or occupants.

Photos and videos of violation events are sent electronically from the traffic safety camera system to the ATS data center where they are reviewed against criteria established by the Seattle Police Department. Events that clearly are not violations are rejected at the data center. Events that appear to be a violation are forwarded to trained officers in the SPD Traffic Section, who authorize issuance of citations for those deemed in violation, review events that appear to meet SPD criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

The City is required to mail out all notice of infractions within 14 days of the date the violation took place. If the violation took place while driving a rental car, the timeframe will be longer. The rental car company has the opportunity to identify the vehicle operator and forward the information so a notice of infraction can be mailed to the renter of the vehicle.


You have three payment options:

  1. Send a check or money order in U.S. funds, payable to Seattle Municipal Court, for the AMOUNT DUE shown on the front, on or before the DUE DATE. Please include the enclosed coupon with your payment. Write your Notice # and your license plate # on your check or money order. PLEASE DO NOT MAIL CASH.
  2. Pay through the internet, on or before the DUE DATE at or through our automated payment system accessible from any touch-tone telephone at (206) 233-7000.
  3. Pay in person, on or before the DUE DATE, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Court Payment Office on the 1st floor of the Seattle Municipal Court Building, 600 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA. A payment box is located in the front of the Seattle Municipal Court Building for after-hours convenience.

Use the coupon enclosed with your ticket to request a mitigation hearing or contested hearing. To submit a declaration of non-responsibility, follow the instructions on the ticket.

  • A HEARING TO EXPLAIN THE CIRCUMSTANCES: By requesting a mitigation hearing, you will be deemed to have committed the infraction. You may not subpoena witnesses for this hearing. You would request a mitigation hearing if you agree you committed the infraction but believe the circumstances may be such that the court could reduce or waive the penalty.
  • A HEARING TO CONTEST THE INFRACTION: At a contested hearing the City has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the infraction was committed. You may subpoena witnesses including the officer who issued this Notice of Infraction. If you request a contested hearing the Court will schedule a pre-hearing conference, which you may waive by using the form attached to the Notice of Hearing that the Court will send you.
  • SUBMIT A DECLARATION OF NON-RESPONSIBILITY: If your vehicle was stolen, sold by you prior to the date of the violation, or was otherwise not in your care, custody or control at the time of the violation, you may submit a sworn statement to that effect to the Court to rebut the presumption, established in SMC 11.31.090, that you were driving the vehicle at the time of the violation.

A photo enforced violation is treated like a parking infraction. There are no issues with your license, no points assessed, and no impact to your insurance.

Photos and videos of violation events are sent electronically from the traffic safety camera system to the ATS data center where they are reviewed against criteria established by the Seattle Police Department. Events that clearly are not violations are rejected at the data center. Those deemed potential violations are forwarded to SPD where trained officers in the SPD Traffic Section review and either reject or authorize issuance of citations for speed violations.

You may view the photographic images and video online at You must use the Notice # and PIN printed on the front of the notice to login.

Persons without access to a computer can visit any Seattle Public Library branch or at the Municipal Court (600 Fifth Avenue) to view photographic and video evidence.

If it occurs during late night, it's most likely the camera conducting a self-diagnostic test and you will not have a ticket. There is also the likelihood of environmental or other uncontrollable factors that may create a "false" trigger. Each potential violation goes through a multi-step review process to insure a violation took place, and where a "false" trigger is present, the infraction is rejected. All infractions must be mailed out no later than 14 days following the infraction and if you have not received anything 1 to 2 days following the mailing, then there was no infraction.


Sue Rahr, Interim Chief of Police
Address: 610 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98104-1900
Mailing Address: PO Box 34986, Seattle, WA, 98124-4986
Phone: (206) 625-5011
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The Seattle Police Department (SPD) prevents crime, enforces laws, and supports quality public safety by delivering respectful, professional, and dependable police services. SPD operates within a framework that divides the city into five geographical areas called "precincts".