Did that camera at the stoplight take my picture?

As you've driven through intersections in South Carolina, you've likely noticed before that there are cameras pointing down at the traffic. But do you know what they're for, or how they work? You might be surprised to know that not every camera at a traffic light takes your picture.

In fact, most of them don't. Most of the cameras that you see at intersections are actually traffic monitoring cameras, which aren't equipped to take your picture and don't even record footage due to their minimalistic design. They simply don't have the memory to do these things. Their only purpose is to monitor the flow of traffic and change the lights from red to green and vice versa as traffic stacks up.

Red light cameras, on the other hand,  take your picture. In some states, you must be warned before you enter a photo-enforced area. Using an algorithm that determines which cars are most likely to run a red light based on speed, it takes one picture before you enter the intersection, and one during the supposed infraction. These images will be put onto an online database. You will then be mailed a ticket for a traffic misdemeanor.

It's possible to contest these tickets, however. Paying them off is an admission to guilt, and even though a traffic misdemeanor will not affect your insurance rates, it will still exist in your history. If you find yourself receiving a mailed ticket for running a red light at a photo-enforced intersection, deciding your next steps is crucial to self-protection.

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