HUMBLE, Texas — Red light cameras have nearly vanished across Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in June banning them immediately.
Sugar Land, Tomball, and most Texas cities have since turned theirs off. However, that legislation, House Bill 1631, did exempt some cities under contract that couldn’t break their deals.
That includes Humble, whose contract runs through 2024 and does not have an out for “adverse state legislation.”
The Humble Police Department’s Facebook page says the city will follow the contract until they can negotiate "cancellation terms that do not adversely affect the city.”
On Friday, the city’s program was still fully operational, with 10 cameras at six intersections, all but one along FM 1960.
Joan B. emailed KHOU’s Verify team, asking “Do you have to pay fines for running a red light in Humble caught on camera?”
Sgt. Jack Burt with the Humble Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit told KHOU on Friday that anyone who receives a red-light camera ticket and does not pay up cannot go to jail.
That’s because the $75 fine is a civil penalty, not a criminal one.
Also, HB 1631 states neither the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles nor a county assessor-collector can refuse to register a vehicle that received a red-light ticket just because its owner hasn’t paid the fine.
Sgt. Burt said that applies even to vehicle owners who received a red light camera citation before June 1, when the law took effect.
“We have no repercussions with the state of Texas no longer holding registrations for these red light cameras,” Sgt. Burt said.
When then asked if paying the fine is essentially voluntary after HB 1631’s passage, he replied, “That is correct.”
Sgt. Burt told KHOU although red-light camera programs are controversial statewide, he has seen a drop in crashes. He also denied online criticism suggesting the program is a cash grab, noting money from the fines goes toward traffic enforcement and safety programs.
As of Friday, Amarillo, Leon Valley, and Balcones Heights were also operating red-light camera systems.
KHOU can verify while a handful of cities are still legally allowed to ticket drivers using red light cameras, there’s no way to force anyone to pay up.
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