Snitch Tickets

snitch tickets stop sign
Don't tattle on a friend or a family member for driving your 

Red light camera tickets cost about $500 per ticket in California and a point on your license. Since the tickets add a point to your license, the police must obtain the name of the actual driver before they can file the ticket at court. Since the photo of the license plate will only lead to the registered owner ("RO"), and often he/she often was not the person driving the car. The police will go to great lengths to get registered owners to identify who was driving the car that was ticketed. Technicians reviewing the photos will check to see if the pictured driver is obviously not the registered owner (male / female mismatch, age difference, or a rental car). Sometimes the photo is too blurry to identify who it is and will send the registered owner an official-looking notice telling him that he must identify the driver. About 40 California police departments will mail out Snitch Tickets to fool the registered owner into identifying the actual driver of the car.

Snitch Tickets have not been filed with the court, so are recognizable because they don't say "Notice to Appear," don't have the court's address, and say (on the back, in small letters), "Do not contact the court." Since they have NOT been filed with the court, they have no legal weight. You can ignore a Snitch Ticket. Snitch Tickets are designed to look like a real ticket but are legally very different. Real tickets and Snitch Tickets both ask the registered owner to turn in or identify the person who was driving the car. Despite all that, there are some differences that you can rely on. One of the best ways to identify a Snitch Ticket is the small print on the back of the page, "Do not contact the court about this notice." Snitch Tickets will also lack any wording directing you to contact or "Respond to" the court. In fact, on a typical Snitch Ticket, there is no phone number for the court, and the court's address usually is missing or incomplete. (Please note, however, that in some towns the real tickets carry an incomplete address.

A real ticket will ask you to contact ("Respond to") the court and you should. If your ticket says this it's likely a real one and you should look it up on the court's website. If it's not on their site, it still could be real. Make sure you are looking on the court's website, not the website of the camera operator Redflex (PhotoNotice) or ATS's. Your ticket is real if you have received a Courtesy Notice and it asks you to contact the court. Please note that your ticket could be real even if the court's phone number is missing and its address is incomplete. This is often the case because some cities are leaving this information off their real tickets, to make it harder for defendants to fight their tickets in court.