Tax Offices Not Blocking Registrations of Red Light Scofflaws

Red light camera opponents secretly recorded local officials admitting there's no real penalty for ignoring red light camera tickets.  And at least a pair of Houston area tax offices confirm they will not block your vehicle registration for upaid tickets.

Byron Schirmbeck with the group Trash Your Ticket has long argued red light cameras are just a money grab, now he says an undercover video proves it.

The video begins with a conversation between Schrimbeck and an Humble Police sergeant who admits that if the counties aren't blocking registrations then there is no point to the program.  Schirmbeck later speaks with a manager of the Harris County Tax Office's Will Clayton Parkway location who confirms her office does not block registrations.

“They're saying these cameras are stopping behavior because they're enforcing the law, but they really aren't with no enforcement mechanism,” he says.

Schirmbeck says the system is designed to discourage drivers from fighting it by setting the monetary penalty so low.  He says most people believe its easier to send a check to their municipality.

“The ticket is $75, but if you show up at the administrative hearing you have to post a $50 bond and if you don't show up they keep the $50,” he says.  “If you want to appeal it to municipal court, you have to post another fee.”

Schirmbeck says violators are told they cannot renew their vehicle's registration if the fine is not paid, but his research has proven that's not always the case.

“The city of Houston, for anything they're doing might do that, and any other municipalities within the county.  But as fas as registrations that the Harris County Tax Office processes, we do not,” says Leah Olive-Nishioka, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector.

Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae also confirmed her office does not block vehicle registrations of red light violators.  The Fort Bend County Tax Assessor-Collector was not available for comment.

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