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Run the red light? You'll be seen

St. Petersburg began issuing tickets from 16 cameras at 11 intersections on Monday Oct. 31, with Tampa following and activating 28 cameras at 14 intersections on Tuesday, Nov. 1. The new additions nearly doubled the digital coverage at busy Tampa Bay area intersections. State lawmakers established rules and penalties for red-light cameras in July, with little variation between cities and counties. So no matter where that eye in the sky may be watching, here's a primer on how it works.

What activates a red-light camera?

A laser sensor about the size of a hockey puck is embedded in the middle of each lane behind the white "stop bar" line, which signifies the beginning of a signalized intersection. The sensors trigger pole-mounted cameras -- for video and still images -- behind the intersection.

Video and still cameras

1. A car that drives over a sensor when the light is red will trigger the video and the still camera's first image. The car must be traveling 10 mph or faster to trigger the sensor.

2. The still camera photographs the vehicle again as it moves through the intersection.

3. The two photos, plus a blowup image of the vehicle's license plate, are mailed to the vehicle owner, along with a link to the red-light camera video online.

What constitutes a violation?

A violation occurs if the first photo shows the car with its front tires behind the stop bar after the light has turned red, and if a second photo shows the car continuing into the intersection. The video captures the whole process.

Want to learn more?

Read our detailed Q&A to learn everything you need to know about red-light cameras.

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