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Unpaid Red-Light Citations Could Affect Violators' Credit Ratings

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Getting caught running a red light in Raleigh may not affect your auto insurance, but it could hurt your credit rating if the citation goes unpaid.

Under the city's ordinance, red-light violators must pay a $50 fine within 30 days of receiving a citation in the mail. Afterward, the fine increases to $100.

And if the citation is not paid within five months, the city reports violators to a collection agency, and the unpaid fine goes on the violator's credit report.

"You're going to receive the citation in the mail first, then you will receive at least four notices over several months before we will actually report you to a credit agency," said Raleigh transportation engineer Mike Kennon.

Since Raleigh's red-light camera program began in August 2003, about 5,700 overdue citations have been referred to collection agencies -- about 332 a month.

"There is no incentive for us to be out there writing large numbers of citations," Kennon said. "We're only hitting those folks that are running the red light, putting others in danger."

The town of Cary has a similar policy of notifying collection agencies, but reports unpaid citations to a collection agency after three months, instead of five.