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ST. LOUIS (AP) - The police chiefs in Missouri's two largest cities are asking the state Supreme Court for guidance on red-light camera ordinances, which are increasingly being called into question.
 
St. Louis chief Sam Dotson and Kansas City chief Darryl Forte wrote to the Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday, saying that inconsistent rulings from lower courts have led to confusion for police and municipalities that operate red-light cameras.
 
It wasn't clear if or when the Supreme Court would take up the issue. A message left with a court spokeswoman on Friday was not returned.
 
Dozens of Missouri communities use the cameras. Police say they can save lives at dangerous intersections. Opponents question their constitutionality and contend the cameras are aimed at generating revenue, not public safety.
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 01:12

St. Louis plans to appeal red light camera ruling

UPDATE: The City of St. Louis plans to appear a circuit court judge's ruling that invalidates the city's red light camera program.

 

Tuesday's ruling bars the city from processing payments for tickets and sending out violation notices. The city says they responded to and fixed problems in the red light camera program that were cited in a 2013 ruling. City Counselor Michael Garvin says they are going to ask the state Supreme Court to settle the matter.

 

Police Chief Sam Dotson says the cameras have reduced red light running--he says some of the first intersections to have the cameras installed have seen citations drop by 80 percent. 

 

EARLIERA judge in St. Louis says red light camera tickets are unenforceable.  A ruling Tuesday by St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer nullifies the city's red light camera ordinance and bars the city from enforcing any part of it.  That includes processing payments for tickets and sending out violation notices or collection letters.  

 

The ruling stems from a petition by two women who'd received red light camera tickets.  Their attorney had argued that the law had already been voided by four other court rulings.  The judge agreed.

 

Proponents of the law had argued that the women lacked standing because their tickets had already been dismissed.  Judge Ohmer called this case an exception because of the  "general public interest."  He also wrote that it was obvious that the tickets had been dismissed in an attempt to avoid a ruling on the ordinance.

 
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - For the third time in slightly more than a month, a Missouri appeals court ruling raises concerns about red-light cameras.
 
The Missouri Court of Appeals' Eastern District on Tuesday reversed a lower court ruling that favored the red-light camera law in the city of Arnold.
 
Several Missouri communities have hired companies to operate cameras to catch red-light violators. The vehicle owner is typically notified by mail and ordered to pay fines.
 
Plaintiffs' attorney Ryan Keane says Tuesday's ruling requires prosecutors to prove that the person being cited is the actual driver, not just the owner.
 
American Traffic Solutions Inc. attorney Ed Dowd Jr. says he hopes the Missouri Supreme Court will consider the issue and provide guidance to cities. A call to the Arnold city attorney was not immediately returned.
Published in Local News

   ST. LOUIS (AP) - An Arizona company that installs and operates red-light cameras across Missouri has hired a former state Supreme Court chief justice to lead an appeal before that court.

   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports former justice Michael Wolff will spearhead an appeal sought by American Traffic Solutions Inc. and Ellisville of a ruling earlier this month that said Ellisville's red-light camera ordinance is not enforceable.

   The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern Division said in a Nov. 5 opinion that state law requires points to be assessed for moving violations, which can be committed only by a driver or pedestrian.

   Many cities ticket the owner of a vehicle caught running a red light, regardless of who was driving, and do not report the infraction to the state to have points assessed.

 
Published in Local News

   Red light camera tickets could become a thing of the past in Missouri.  That's because of a state appeals court ruling Tuesday of this week.  

   The Eastern District court in St. Louis overturned it's own precedent when it found Ellisville's red light camera ordinance was in conflict with state law because the tickets are issued to the vehicle owner and not the driver.  

   Two years ago the court had upheld a similar Creve Coeur law, but now says that ruling is "no longer good law."  

   The Arizona-based company that operates the cameras in Ellisville and several other municipalities says it will appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 04:27

STL City's red light cameras ruled okay

   It looks like St. Louis' red light cameras can stay, and the city can keep millions of dollars it's collected in fines.  That's after yesterday's ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals that upheld the city's use of red light cameras to control traffic.  The ruling reverses a previous court decision that had declared the city ordinance unconstitutional.  

   The city won't be able to collect on all 138,000 unpaid red light tickets though.  That's because the court also found that tickets issued more than a year ago had to be tossed out because they didn't clearly state how they could be contested.  Just about a year ago the city fixed that problem by changing the wording on the summons.

Published in Local News
The issue of red light cameras is again under consideration by the state appeals court in St. Louis. The decision on these new cases before the Eastern District Court of Appeals is expected to have state-wide implications.

In 2011, the Eastern District Court of Appeals had ruled that municipalities can use cameras to ticket red-light runners if the citation is against the vehicle, like a parking ticket, and not the driver. The ticket also must be treated as a civil matter, instead of being a criminal charge. That decision dealt specifically with Creve Coeur’s red-light ordinance.

On Wednesday, the court heard new arguments on Creve Coeur's rules and also ordinances in Florissant and the City of St. Louis. The latter two are similar in structure.

Last year, one circuit court struck down the St. Louis law, but another upheld the one in Florissant. The mixed rulings have drivers unclear about whether they should pay red light camera tickets.

The appeals court ruling on these cases is expected to clarify the matter.
Published in Local News
ST. PETERS, Mo. (AP) -- Red-light cameras are a hot topic again in the St. Louis area following the arrest of a St. Charles County councilman over a ticket from last summer.

Republican Councilman Joe Brazil isn't disputing the ticket he received in St. Peters, but he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it's overkill for a city to use police time on arrests for offenses that don't add penalty points to a driver's license under Missouri law. Red-light camera violations fall into that category.

"I think it's a complete waste of police resources," Brazil said. "They're overdoing it."

Brazil said he mailed in the fine before his arrest, but St. Peters spokeswoman Lisa Bedian said the city has no record of receiving Brazil's check. Bedian said the city issues arrest warrants whenever someone doesn't show up for a court date on any charge, including red-light violations.

Other cities in the St. Louis region take different approaches, and many don't issue arrest warrants for red-light violations. The cameras have spurred debate since they have been increasingly used in the St. Louis area over the past few years. Companies install the equipment in exchange for a portion of the fines. Opponents see it as an unfair money-grab, while proponents argue that the cameras help save lives by discouraging drivers from skirting through red lights.

Wentzville, like St. Peters, issues warrants for nonpayment of red-light violations. Police spokesman Paul West said the decision may depend on the type of photo taken by the camera system. Wentzville and St. Peters both use cameras that capture the face of the driver, rather than simply a photo of the vehicle license plate.

"If I can't say who is driving, how am I going to know who to arrest?" West said. Brazil was pulled over for a traffic stop last month. The officer told him there was a warrant for his arrest, frisked him, put him in the back of the police vehicle and drove him to police headquarters, where he spent about an hour in a holdover cell. Brazil said he'd mailed a cashier's check to pay his $110 fine before his arrest.

Those caught on red-light cameras are first sent a summons giving them the option of paying the $110 fine or going to court, Bedian said. If they do neither, they get a letter with a second court date and a warning that an arrest warrant will be issued if they don't respond.
Published in Around Town
ST. PETERS, Mo. (AP) -- Red-light cameras are a hot topic again in the St. Louis area following the arrest of a St. Charles County councilman over a ticket from last summer.

Republican Councilman Joe Brazil isn't disputing the ticket he received in St. Peters, but he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it's overkill for a city to use police time on arrests for offenses that don't add penalty points to a driver's license under Missouri law. Red-light camera violations fall into that category.

"I think it's a complete waste of police resources," Brazil said. "They're overdoing it."

Brazil said he mailed in the fine before his arrest, but St. Peters spokeswoman Lisa Bedian said the city has no record of receiving Brazil's check. Bedian said the city issues arrest warrants whenever someone doesn't show up for a court date on any charge, including red-light violations.

Other cities in the St. Louis region take different approaches, and many don't issue arrest warrants for red-light violations. The cameras have spurred debate since they have been increasingly used in the St. Louis area over the past few years. Companies install the equipment in exchange for a portion of the fines. Opponents see it as an unfair money-grab, while proponents argue that the cameras help save lives by discouraging drivers from skirting through red lights.

Wentzville, like St. Peters, issues warrants for nonpayment of red-light violations. Police spokesman Paul West said the decision may depend on the type of photo taken by the camera system. Wentzville and St. Peters both use cameras that capture the face of the driver, rather than simply a photo of the vehicle license plate.

"If I can't say who is driving, how am I going to know who to arrest?" West said. Brazil was pulled over for a traffic stop last month. The officer told him there was a warrant for his arrest, frisked him, put him in the back of the police vehicle and drove him to police headquarters, where he spent about an hour in a holdover cell. Brazil said he'd mailed a cashier's check to pay his $110 fine before his arrest.

Those caught on red-light cameras are first sent a summons giving them the option of paying the $110 fine or going to court, Bedian said. If they do neither, they get a letter with a second court date and a warning that an arrest warrant will be issued if they don't respond.
Published in Local News

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