LAWRENCEBURG — A growing number of cities are using red light cameras to catch drivers running red lights.
But more and more drivers, receiving tickets for a red light violation, are saying, "Hey, that wasn't me."
Jacob Moritz of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, is among them.
He prides himself on his driving.
"I definitely don't run red lights. I can't afford to," he said.
But Calumet City, Illinois, thinks he did, sending him a $100 ticket for running a red light camera.
Only problem: Moritz says it's a case of mistaken identity.
"I knew instantly this wasn't my pickup truck and wasn't my license plate," he said.
He says it's obvious that it is not his Ford F-150 in the photos that he received in the mail.
"No, that's a Ford Explorer Sport Track," he said. "It's actually more of an SUV."
But Moritz thinks he knows why he was targeted. Both his truck and the one in the photo have similar Indiana plates. But his plate is one digit off from the photo.
His plate starts the same, but ends with "------NKM," while the offending driver's plate ends with "-----NXM."
The K and X look very similar.
It might not be that big a deal except that Moritz is a commercial truck driver, with a CDL license, and he worries anything like this could impact his job.
"I had to turn it in to work," he said, "because they told me that as of right now it is going on my license."
What can you do if this happens to you?
We called the Calumet City police, where a public information officer told us Moritz needs to challenge the ticket by mail, sending photos of his registration and plate.
The police would not discuss his case further.
Meantime, defense attorneys say if this happens to you:
- Never ignore a ticket, even if it is from a state you have never visited. The fine could double, and triple.
- Call or Google and find out how to challenge it.
- Then send photos of everything, ideally by certified mail, to the court listed on the citation.
Even if it's a case of mistaken identity, you are essentially guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
"I had never even actually even heard of this city," Moritz said, let alone driven through it.
He has heard of it now.
One bit of good news: The Calumet City officer told us the ticket is a civil violation, not a criminal moving violation, as there is no picture of the driver.
But still, don't ignore a ticket like this, so you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
Follow John on Instagram @johnmataresemoney
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
For more consumer news and money saving advice, go to www.dontwasteyourmoney.com