Another Missouri Appeals Court Questions Red Light Cameras

By Jim Salter | December 19, 2013

For the third time in a month, a Missouri appeals court ruling has raised concerns about red light cameras.

The Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 reversed an earlier ruling that favored the red light camera law in Arnold, Mo., a St. Louis suburb that in 2006 was the first Missouri community to install red light cameras.

Several other cities and towns followed suit in recent years, hiring companies to operate cameras that show people driving through red lights. The vehicle owner is typically notified by mail and ordered to pay fines.

Ryan Keane, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ruling in the Arnold case, among other things, requires prosecutors to prove that the person being cited is the actual driver, not just the owner.

“This is a big decision,” Keane said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what impact the ruling would have on red light violations in Arnold. Messages seeking comment from the city leaders were not returned.

Ed Dowd Jr., an attorney for American Traffic Solutions Inc., which operates the red light cameras, said the ruling found fault with the way the Arnold ordinance was written but doesn’t say the cameras can’t be used. He also noted that earlier rulings found the cameras lawful.

“Basically we are hoping that the Missouri Supreme Court will look at all of these cases around the state and look at the 30 communities have red light camera safety systems, including Kansas City and St. Louis,” he said. “They are looking for guidance as to how to write these ordinances.”

Other recent rulings have also raised concerns about red light camera laws in Missouri.

In November, a three-judge panel of the same court ruled that the St. Louis suburb of Ellisville’s ordinance governing red light cameras contradicted state law and was not enforceable. The court ruled that contrary to Ellisville’s ordinance, running a red light is a moving violation, and state law requires points to be assessed against the driver.

That ruling prompted several Missouri towns with red light ordinances to stop handing out tickets, at least until legal issues are cleared up.

Later in November, the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals reversed a decision by a Jackson County judge, who had dismissed a lawsuit brought against Kansas City and American Traffic Solutions. Like the Ellisville case, a key issue was that Kansas City’s ordinance allows a driver to run a traffic light without points being assessed to a license.

 

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