Denver is continually working to become a more walkable, bikeable and safe environment for residents in all transportation modes and across all abilities. Photo enforcement is an important tool that promotes traffic safety using smart methods. The program acts as a force multiplier, allowing our police officers to be more safely and effectively deployed while still addressing traffic enforcement.
Red light cameras help to keep our crosswalks safe and prevent dangerous side impact crashes. Photo radar assists in reducing speeds to protect sensitive populations in school zones, construction zones and near parks.
Photo red light technology has reduced accidents at intersections where the technology is deployed. The presence of the van for 5 consecutive days results in a 21% reduction in excessive speeding (vehicles traveling 10+ MPH over the speed limit). Around 75% of red light violators are first-time violations, indicating that most violations are not by repeat offenders and behavior is being changed at that intersection. In addition, accidents at photo enforced intersections have decreased. For example, at the high-use intersection of 6th and Lincoln, total accidents have decreased 38%, side impact crashes have decreased 62% and injury accidents have decreased 60%.
In Denver, the data demonstrates clearly the safety benefit of this program. At the four locations where red light cameras operate, incidents of red light running have decreased since the inception of the program. A study conducted in the winter of 2016 revealed a decrease in average speeds on roads where a van present in just one week. Conversely, there is also a clear increase in average speed of vehicles after the van is removed.
National research has demonstrated the life-saving impact of photo enforcement programs. In cities that turned on red light cameras, there were 21 percent fewer fatal red light running crashes per capita. In cities that turned off red light cameras, there were 30 percent more fatal red light running crashes per capita [citation: Statistical information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, July 2016.].
Photo speed has been used in Denver to improve traffic safety since 1998. The red light program has been in operation since 2008. Currently, Denver has four intersections equipped with red light cameras and operated 4 photo speed vans for two shifts daily during the week, and 2 vans for two shifts daily on the weekends.
Data tracking on the photo enforcement programs occurs regularly, including reports provided by the vendor and compiled by DPD and Public Works. The technologies have demonstrated an impact on speeds and crashes. The presence of photo radar vans has been shown to significantly reduce excessive speeding where it is deployed.
The photo enforcement program is a smart and effective tool that allows the Denver Police Department to work smarter to improve safety for all Denver residents. Many organizations have expressed support for use of photo enforcement as a tool to maintain safe neighborhoods, crosswalks and overall traffic safety. These include the International Institute for Highway Safety, the Colorado Chiefs of Police Association, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Denver’s Commission on Aging, Commission for People With Disabilities, Walk Denver, and various RNOs including Capitol Hill United Neighbors.
A team of dedicated individuals work to ensure the integrity of the program. From setting up the equipment to issuing a citation, the Denver Police Department is vigilant.
Q: How are enforcement locations chosen?
Denver works to thoughtfully use photo red light technology. Decisions on placement of our 4 red light enforced approaches and 5 radar vans are determined through a variety of factors including:
Q: Are there points assessed on my license?
No, unlike a speeding ticket (or red-light running ticket) issued by a police officer on the scene, photo radar tickets are not reported to insurance.
Q: Why are tickets issued for stopping past the stop-bar?
Red light cameras keep crosswalks safe and clear for our disabled and aging populations. It is necessary to ensure that crosswalks are accessible and secure, especially for those that are mobility and visually impaired, including seniors.
Stop Line violations (crossing the white bar at a crosswalk) are only issued when the front tires of a vehicle have completely crossed the white stop line. This type of violation results in a $40.00 fine. If a vehicle’s two rear tires have crossed the white stop line, the fine is set at $75.00. Drivers are free to turn right on red, but only after coming to a complete stop behind the stop line first.
Q: Does reducing speed make a difference?
Yes. It can be the difference between a fatal or survivable collision.
Q: How long is the yellow light at enforced locations? Can it be lengthened?
All traffic lights in the City and County of Denver have a yellow time that ranges from 3.0 to 5.0 seconds. All signals also have an all-red time that ranges from 2.0 to 4.0 seconds. Federal guidelines (as described in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) state that “A yellow change interval should have a minimum duration of 3 seconds and a maximum duration of 6 seconds. The longer intervals should be reserved for use on approaches with higher speeds.”
The interval timing at the 4 photo enforced approaches are:
SB Speer Blvd-8th Ave: WB Approach
Yellow – 4.0 seconds
All-red – 2.0 seconds
Kalamath St – 6th Ave: EB Approach
Yellow – 4.0 seconds
All-red – 2.0 seconds
Lincoln -6th Ave: EB Approach
Yellow – 3.5 seconds
All-red – 3.5 seconds
NB Quebec St-36th Ave: NB Approach
Yellow – 5.0 seconds
All-red -2.0 seconds
The City and County of Denver uses photo enforcement technology because it has a demonstrated impact on improving safety. There are a number of misunderstandings about the program, which we would like to correct here.
MYTH: A photo enforcement violation isn’t legal and you don’t have to pay it
Photo red light violations have the same legal obligations as any other traffic violation. As directed by City Council, Denver first issues a Notice of Violation as an advisement with a request to respond within 15 days. If no action is taken by the vehicle owner after 45 days, a Penalty Assessment Notice (PAN) will be served via personal service or certified mail. A PAN is a legal document charging the person named and the vehicle owner is compelled by law to respond to this PAN. An additional fee is assessed if a PAN must be issued.
The state legislature has limited maximum fines associated with photo red light violations to $75 and photo speed violation to $40 ($80 if in a school zone) and has mandated that no points may be issued against a license for the violations.
MYTH: This is just a way for the City to make money
The singular reason that photo enforcement is used because it improves safety on Denver’s roadways. Red-light cameras are intended to impact driver behavior. The data from the program shows how the program is working as intended. Approximately 75 percent of red-light running violations are committed by first-time violators. This means that once a driver is issued a citation, they are very unlikely to run a red light again. Their behavior changes and crashes are thereby decreased. Moreover, as this driver behavior changes, there are fewer violations, which means fewer citations.
Though these revenues are not segregated for a specific purpose, The fines collected by the City have been used in previous years to significantly expand multi-modal safety options in the city including enhanced crosswalks, intersection safety improvements, Vision Zero related safety studies. The funds have also been used to make improvements, upgrade and replace traffic signals, and install neighborhood traffic calming measures.
As with all fines issued by the Denver Police Department, the revenue goes into the General Fund.
MYTH: The system sometimes malfunctions and no human is involved in monitoring the violations
In the case of photo radar, a live person from the photo enforcement unit (PEU) is inside the vehicle monitoring all captured incidents. PEU personnel go through the same training on use of radar as radar-certified uniformed officers and, like uniformed officers issuing tickets, our policy is that the PEU agent must accurately estimate a vehicle’s speed within +/- 5 MPH in order for a citation to be issued. All photo red light citations are reviewed by a live DPD PEU agent to determine if a violation truly occurred. Notices of violation are issued to the first registered owner of a vehicle and the owner has multiple options for reviewing the incident captured for accuracy and contesting the violation, including moving to a court date. Not all violations detected are issued. In fact, from 2009-2013, 58.8% of photo red light violations detected were issued and 79.5% of detected photo radar violations were issued. Reasons for non-issuance include poor driver image, plate obstructed, unclear scene images, and observation error.
Q: What happens if I ignore the Notice of Violation?
Failure to respond to the notice may result in a Penalty Assessment Notice being authorized by the Denver Police Department. This Penalty Assessment Notice will be personally served by a process server and will result in a service fee of at least $29.00. If a Penalty Assessment Notice is served you will be required to appear in court unless payment is received 5 business days prior to the respond by/arraignment date listed on the Penalty Assessment Notice.
The respond by/arraignment date is listed on the served Penalty Assessment Notice. This respond by date is your arraignment date. You will need to pay the fine and costs including the personal service fee, submit a not pictured driver affidavit or nominate the driver (not required to) within 15 days of the respond by/arraignment date. If you wish to plead not guilty you need to go to the Denver County Court, Room 135 by 5:00 PM on the respond by date.
Q: Will I receive points on my driving record for a photo speed/red light ticket?
No. Photo Speed violations are zero point Traffic Infractions that are not reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Q: What if I am not the person pictured in the violation notice?
You may sign and mail in the Not Pictured Driver Affidavit located on the back of your Notice of Violation or Penalty Assessment Notice. You must submit a legible, clear photocopy of your driver’s license with the Not Pictured Driver Affidavit. The affidavit and supporting documentation will be reviewed by a Denver Police Department employee and a determination will be made regarding the identity of the actual driver. If further information is required, you may be contacted by the Photo Enforcement Unit. In most cases you will be notified by mail of the outcome of the Denver Police Department review.
A false representation that you are not the pictured driver, may subject you to criminal prosecution and penalties according to Denver Revised Municipal Code 38-40, False Information.
Q: Do I have to identify the driver in the violation and what happens if I do?
You are not required to nominate (or identify) the driver in order to have your Not Pictured Affidavit reviewed by the Denver Police Department.
If you choose to nominate the driver, the Nomination Affidavit information is reviewed by a Denver Police Department employee. If it is accepted, the notice of violation against you will be cancelled and placed in the name of the person nominated. If a Penalty Assessment Notice was served and/or filed in the Denver County Court, the Denver Police Department will submit a motion via our City Attorney to dismiss the case against you and the Notice of Violation or Penalty Assessment Notice will be issued to the individual you nominated.
If the Nomination Affidavit is not accepted, the Notice of Violation will remain in your name. If you set your case for final hearing and your nomination of another driver is not accepted, a Photo Enforcement Agent will appear on the day of final hearing.
Q: How do I request a photo enforcement citation review?
Call the Photo Enforcement Unit at 720-337-1114 if you wish to request a review of your Photo Enforcement citation. Please note that:
If you feel the wrong vehicle or person was cited please call the Photo Enforcement Unit for a review while you are on the phone. This phone review will not address whether you are the pictured driver but will address whether the right person or vehicle is cited as in violation.
Q: How do I plead not guilty?
Q: Why was I personally served if I paid my citation or plead not guilty?
Photo enforcement improves safety, especially for pedestrians. If you are concerned about the safety on a stretch of road in Denver and would like to request enforcement, you can contact us directly at email@example.com.
Photo vans may operate in residential areas (35 MPH or less), streets bordering parks, school zones, and work zones.
Safe driving protects you and the community. Here are some tips for how to be a safe driver.
Denver Traffic Safety: Know the Rules and Your Rights:
Safe Driving Tips from the Colorado Department of Transportation:
Safe Driving Tips from the Center for Disease Control:
How to drive safely in winter conditions, from the National Highway Safety Administration:
Distracted driving is a dangerous and growing concern for all communities. Learn more and commit to safer and distraction-free driving:
The photo speed vans are deployed on residential streets with a posted speed limit of 35 MPH or less, on streets bordering parks with any posted speed limit, and in safety zones, which include School zones and Work zones throughout the City and County of Denver. Scheduled deployments are based on best use of resources and occur during during two shifts from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm.
Currently, there are 4 intersections in the City set-up with Photo Red Light equipment that monitor traffic 24/7 and capture incidents that are reviewed and issued by the Denver Police Department.
We may be unable to immediately answer the phone when you call us. Please leave a voicemail and we will contact you within 1-4 business days. Be sure to include your name, phone number, citation or violation number, and your specific concern.
Residential area or street bordering park
|School zone / work zone
|Photo red light intersection - through violation||$75|
|Photo red light intersection - crosswalk violation||$40|
*A minimum additional fee of $29 will be assessed if personal service is required, however the cost may be higher if the cost of service is greater.
Most tickets are eligible for online payment. You will need your citation number and the 9-digit PIN number printed on page 2 of your violation notice.
We accept checks, cashier's checks, and money orders for mail-in payments. Please include your citation number and/or license plate number on any payments mailed in and make payable to "Manager of Finance".
City and County of Denver
Photo Speed Enforcement Program
PO Box 46503
Denver, CO 80201-6503
Please allow 7-14 days from the mailing date to process your payment. Please review your bank statement prior to calling the Photo Enforcement Unit regarding payment status. *NOTE:Failure to mail to the address above will result in delayed processing.