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ARLINGTON If you don't see red when the light changes, you'll sure see it when the mail arrives.

Red light camera tickets cost $75... if you pay on time.

But Arlington police say more than 166,000 red light camera tickets have never been paid $2.5 million worth.

The Arlington City Council voted Tuesday night to turn up the pressure to pay by asking the Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector to block vehicle registrations for scofflaws.

'I don't think they should be able to keep you from driving,' said Andrew Birdwell as he renewed his tags at the Tarrant County Courthouse. 'But I do think people should pay.'

Birdwell said he paid his red light camera ticket.

Dallas and several other counties already block registrations, as authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2009. But Tarrant County has never enforced it because no cities have been willing to pay for the service.

'If they want me to do this, they have to pay, because there's an additional cost to the county,' explained Assessor-Collector Ron Wright. 'You're basically dealing with the customer twice.'

Wright figures the additional cost at $5.24 per transaction. Arlington becomes the first city in the county to agree to pay the fee.The Commissioners Court must still approve the plan.

Wright already has signs ready to post to alert the public.

Arlington has 23 red light cameras. A recent audit showed a reduction in accidents at monitored intersections. The system also generates millions in revenue.

Because the violations are civil, the city cannot issue warrants for the drivers. Ron Wright said there will likely be protests against blocking registrations, although he doesn't foresee major problems.

'People who have a problem with it need to take it up with the legislature,' he saud.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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