Notices on red light tickets called misleading

July 15, 2010 4:14:56 PM PDT
You see them at intersections across the city -- cameras snapping pictures of red light runners caught in the act. Now some people who've gotten tickets are also getting notices in the mail, telling them they can't renew their registration until they pay up. We first told you back in February those notices would be going out. Now that people are receiving them, it's causing a lot of confusion about whether or not they're really accurate.

Some are calling the letter misleading at a minimum, or worse, flat out fraudulent. But the police department says it's doing nothing other than what so many other departments do.

Cyndi Payton got a letter from the Houston Police Department a few months ago. She says it threatening her that if she didn't pay the $100 owed from a red light camera violation her truck's registration wouldn't be renewed.

"They're lying," Payton said. "If anybody gets a red light ticket and they don't pay it and they get this notice, they should know that it's bullarkey."

Payton admits she hasn't paid the fine because she's against red light cameras. The letter she received says as a result the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has placed a "hold" on her registration renewal and that the vehicle cannot be renewed until she pays the money.

Payton's attorney Paul Kubosh said, "They're lying. They're deceiving. They know they're deceiving. That's the problem with the whole program."

It's true the Department of Motor Vehicles says that "holds" are placed on registration renewals for those who don't pay up. But they tell us renewal is up to the county tax assessor-collector, and the county commissioners have refused to pass anything that would give the tax assessor the power to deny any such renewal.

"The statement in the letter is just false," explained Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "That's not a block on them getting their registration if they get it through Harris County."

HPD defends the letters, saying they've sent out 79,000 similar requests for registration holds as part of an agreement with the state of Texas. HPD says it has no control over what the county does or doesn't do.

HPD Assistant Chief Vicki King said, "If Harris County chooses not to take action on that, that's their responsibility."


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