Many drivers have bemoaned the cameras installed in intersections that catch drivers blowing through red lights and issue tickets accordingly. But in one New Mexico city, ignoring those tickets is an especially bad idea — doing so could get your utilities shut off.

Las Cruces, N.M. put the cameras in place about three years ago, and since then, violators have run up $2 million in unpaid fines, $600,000 of which would’ve gone to the city itself.

Since the violations aren’t criminal, officials have had limited options for forcing people to pay the tickets. But all that changed when someone noticed a particular section of the Las Cruces municipal code that reads in part, “The city may decline, fail or cease to furnish utility service to any person who may be in debt to the city for any reason.”

Since electricity isn’t provided by the city, they can’t shut off anyone’s lights, but they can turn off water, sewage and gas service, which would certainly make life uncomfortable.

Debtors are now being sent letters that make this clear and have a deadline for payment. And they seem to be working.

Udell Vigil, the communications director for the City of Las Cruces, said while some residents are angry, “people who have received these letters are taking care of [the fines].”

Watch a news story about the controversial new method for extracting payment below.

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[ABC News]