How Long Does it Take to Get a Red-Light Camera Ticket in the Mail?

To the best of my memory, I entered the intersection a second or two after the yellow light, but definitely not on red.

A while back, I had a "red-light camera" flash me. No ticket so far. How long does it take to get one? To the best of my memory, I entered the intersection a second or two after the yellow light, but definitely not on red.

—Cautious Guy

To the best of Hitler's memory, Poland threw the first punch, Cautious, but we'll give you the benefit of the doubt. (I'm still going to assume you were doing 90 and had a dead priest in your trunk, though.)

The first thing you need to know is that "the light was yellow" is not a valid defense, at least not in Oregon. We're one of only 12 states with what is known as the "restrictive yellow" rule.

While in other states you can enter the intersection any time the light is not actually red, here you need to be completely clear of the intersection before the red light. The yellow light is only there to let you finish getting through an intersection you entered on green, unless you literally can't stop without killing a school bus full of crippled puppies.

Related: What's the Deal with the Little Blue Light on Stop Lights?

Oregon law requires the camera operator to put tickets in the mail within six days, so if it's been more than a couple weeks since your crime spree, you're probably in the clear.

You shouldn't be too surprised. Only about 40 percent of red-light camera photos actually result in tickets. Every incident is reviewed by an actual person, so if you just slightly overshot the stop line, or set off the camera by making a legal right turn on red, you'll be fine.

There are situations where a guilty driver walks, though: if the license plate is illegible, say, or the camera malfunctions, or—this is the most common—there's a gender mismatch between the registered owner and the person in the photo.

Which just goes to show: If you're going to drive drunk, do it in drag. I mean, I've always said that, but now I have a good reason.