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HPD warns: red light grace period ending

 VEHICLE REGISTRATION HOLDS BECOME EFFECTIVE AFTER SATURDAY

HOUSTON (January 26, 2010) – The City of Houston Police Department reminds motorists a 60-day public education and grace period ends Saturday (Jan. 30) for approximately 77,800 Texas vehicle owners with delinquent Notices of Violation.  

Letters were mailed to owners of registered vehicles identified by the City of Houston’s Red Light Camera Enforcement Program as having violated a red light signal and the associated fines remain unpaid and past due. To enforce payment of delinquent fines, the City of Houston passed an ordinance on November 19, 2008 which allows the City to request the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) to place a hold on renewal of a vehicle’s registration until the fine is paid. If the delinquent fines are not paid by January 30, 2010 a hold will be placed immediately after that date. This will prevent renewal of the registration at the end of the current registration period and the vehicle cannot be legally driven. (Operators of unregistered vehicles can be cited.) Owners of vehicles with registration holds can have the hold released within two to three business days by paying the fine using convenient payment methods: on-line, phone, mail or in person. Once the fine is paid and the hold is released, the owner can register the vehicle with any of the methods allowed by the respective county.

The City of Houston and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV, formerly TxDOT) entered a five-year agreement on December 15, 2008 which allows the City to request TxDMV to place a hold on renewal of a vehicle’s registration until a past due Red Light Camera fine is paid. The State Legislature enabled this provision of the Texas Transportation Code (sec. 707.017. ENFORCEMENT) to ensure compliance with the Red Light Camera laws. The City has also reached a preliminary agreement with the Harris County Tax Office to help with enforcement of the registration holds, and the agreement is pending approval of the Harris County Commissioners.

“We urge vehicle owners to avoid the inconvenience and delays that a registration hold will cause. It’s a lot easier to take advantage of the remaining grace period this week before the hold goes into effect and to simply pay the fine by using any of the convenient payment methods listed on the notice,” said Joseph Fenninger, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Director of the Houston Police Department.

Owners of Texas registered vehicles previously sent delinquency notices will be directly affected by registration holds if the grace period deadline passes and the fine remains unpaid.  Delinquency occurs after the owner fails to pay the fine by the deadline specified in two or more notices mailed to the address of record. In addition to the registration hold, all delinquencies are turned over to a law firm for collection.

Vehicle owners have several convenient options to resolve a Notice of Violation, which is a civil penalty: (1) pay online at www.ViolationInfo.com, (2) pay by phone toll-free at (866) 790-4111, (3) pay by mail, or (4) pay in person at the Municipal Courts Building at 1400 Lubbock or at a walk-in payment center at 1301 Travis, Suite 145.  A violator can view a video and still photos of his or her violation by going online at www.ViolationInfo.com.

“Red light running is completely preventable. This important next phase of enforcement for Houston’s Red Light Camera Program is aimed at sending a clear message to citizens about the value we place on public safety,” said Sgt. Michael Muench with the Houston Police Department. “There are consequences associated with ignoring the law, and simply refusing to pay the fine does not exempt a violator from accountability,” added Muench. “The new registration hold reminds each of us that red light running is serious and the vehicle owner will be held accountable. The goal of the program continues to be focused on traffic safety by changing driver behavior and discouraging dangerous driving and the running of red lights.”

Motorists who want to verify if they have a pending notice(s) of violation can access http://www.violationinfo.com/TXHOU/Checkplate.  With this link, citizens can enter their license plate numbers to determine if there is a pending violation on their vehicle.  If there is, citizens are advised to contact the contractor’s customer service number for more information.  No information on the Notice will be provided, only that there is one (or more) pending violation.

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