By Roger Jones
Four cities in Alameda County issue fake red light camera tickets, called Snitch Tickets, whenever the police cannot identify the driver of the car.
Typically that problem occurs because the DMV photo of the owner doesn't match the driver who is a spouse or other family member, or when the vehicle is a taxi cab, truck or rental car registered in a company name.
Snitch Tickets look like the real McCoy, but they can be ignored — because they are fake. Nonetheless many people worry, “But the ticket says I MUST write down the driver's information and mail it in.”
If you received an official looking letter saying "jump off a bridge," would you do it? In a 2011 KTVU interview, Police Chief Ken James of Emeryville said, "You cannot get in trouble for not responding."
There is no legal requirement for the owner to do so and there are no consequences for not snitching on the family member, friend, or employee driving the car.
The owner of a vehicle who receives a snitch ticket is free to handle the matter internally. He can reprimand the driver, be it spouse, son, daughter, or employee.
Or, if the violation depicted in the photos is an egregious one — a rare occurrence — take away their access to the vehicle.
Fake or Real? How can you tell? There are three clear ways to tell the difference. A real ticket MUST say “Notice to Appear” and a fake cannot use these words.
A real ticket will give the court's address and phone number. A fake will give some other address, perhaps the police station, or an address in Arizona. In fact the fake will most likely say, “Do not call the Court.” Why? Because the court has no record of the citation because it is not real.
If you are still not sure what to do, call a traffic attorney or Google “snitch ticket.”