St. Louis Red-Light Cameras Are Perfectly Legal, Appellate Court Rules

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The Missouri Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling from last year that found St. Louis' red-light-camera ordinance to be in violation of state law.

In a unanimous decision handed down yesterday, all three justices for the Missouri Court of Appeals-Eastern District concluded that St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Mark Neill erred back in February 2012 when he ruled that the city required enabling legislation from the state legislature in order to enforce its red-light-camera ordinance.

"Because the enactment of reasonable traffic regulation is a proper exercise of City's police power, and because City is a constitutional charter city possessing broad authority to enact legislation, we...reverse the trial court's judgment...that the Ordinance conflict with state law," wrote the justices in their 35-page opinion.

The initial court case dates back to 2009 when lead plaintiff Alexa Smith and others sought a class-action suit against St. Louis on grounds that the citations they received from the cameras violated their due process rights and privilege against self-incrimination. The $100 citations arrive in the mail and show an image of a vehicle entering a red light but do not identify the driver.

See also:
- St. Louis Continues Installing Red Light Cameras Despite Judge's Ruling
- St. Louis Car Crashes Caught on Red Light Cameras
- St. Louis Red-Light Camera Ordinance Declared Void

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Judge Mark Neill
As Judge Neil noted last year, the wording in the citation made it unclear that the vehicle's owner had any recourse. "[T]here is no summons or court date provided with the notice of violation and the notice does not convey to the recipient the right to contest the notice of violation," wrote Neil, in his opinion that granted the plaintiffs summary judgment for the city violating their right to due process.

Yesterday, the appellate justices also reversed that ruling, stating that plaintiffs were entitled to raise procedural due process claims in municipal court. But the appellate justices did agree that the citation the city originally mailed respondents was vague and did not comply with mandatory notice requirements -- a violation of Missouri Supreme Court rules that would make the city's ordinance void. That issue is now moot, though, according to Mayor Francis Slay's office, because the city has already changed the language of the citation to conform with the court rules.

The city has maintained throughout the appeal that its red-light-camera system is legal and has continued issuing citations and installing new cameras.

Continue to discover just how much money the city has earned from red-light cameras and whether you need to finally pay up.

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28 comments
dregstudios
dregstudios

Traffic cameras are just another form of Policing for Profit as Capitalism distorts our Justice System.  These companies are bottom-feeders and take a 40% cut of the tickets while creating MORE dangerous intersections by fixing the lengths of yellow lights to entrap drivers.   You can read about how private companies and crooked politicians have turned our Police forces on their ear in every attempt to squeeze money out of the general public at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-privatized-police-state.html

CameraOrdinanceVoid
CameraOrdinanceVoid

Did anyone even read the ruling? This article, as of 9:23 PM on June 12, 2013, is wrong even in its headline. Although the Appellate court reversed some parts of Mark Neill's ruling, they affirmed the part declaring the city's red light camera ordinance void.

The key sentence is on page 2 of the ruling (see http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=62516 or the scribd document embedded in the article):

"However, since the Ordinance does not comply with the mandatory notice requirements of the Missouri Supreme Court rules, we affirm the trial court’s judgment in favor of Smith invalidating the Ordinance, although not on procedural due process grounds."

Therefore, St. Louis City's red light camera ordinance is void, and has been void since February of 2012.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

Just cover your license plate up and run them on purpose, take pleasure in the fact there probably isn't a cop around because his job got replaced by a camera..

Brian Wittling
Brian Wittling

brake lights on doesn't mean you made a complete stop before making the right turn on red. You roll it, they'll write it.

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

I never got anything in the mail. Maybe send it certified next time..

Jared Mudd
Jared Mudd

We thought you we're such a careful and attentive driver. It should matter how fast the care ahead of you is going as long as you immediately slow down upon seeing the yellow light. No worries.

Harry Lambing
Harry Lambing

Wonder how long it will be before they start using these cameras with radar guns to catch speeders.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

Jillian, if someone isn't paying attention and runs a solid red light the camera won't prevent that, ever. Then ask yourself why the municipality ALWAYS shortens the yellow light to the minimum allowed when numerous studies suggest a longer yellow light is safer? I know you're the greatest driver in the world with absolutely no faults but you have to see the corruption here, right?

Jillian Beckerman
Jillian Beckerman

What I always worry about are the drivers in front of me, who 'putz' through intersections when the light turns green and the only way I'd get a red-light ticket, is because those idiots are going too slow and I got stuck behind them, esp the Olive & 270 intersection. It's a very long, wide intersection and when slow drivers take their time, it's easy to get hit with a ticket.

Joanna Franke Kleine
Joanna Franke Kleine

I received one in the mail from hydroplaning through a red light, completely unavoidable since there was an inch of ice on the road. I paid it, but don't feel like I should have...

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

the day they can prove it was me that ran the red light and not somebody that has borrowed my car i pay a red light camera ticket

Tara Loyd
Tara Loyd

Wow..Claire Wright has alot of time on her hands. I am in outside sales and travel these same streets everyday..all day. They are predatory if you ask me. It's not even about running the red light. It's a crooked system

Catherine Claire
Catherine Claire

What dumb lawyers drafted the complaint?! Red light cameras do not violate any due process, confrontation clause, or anything of the sort! If the lawyers would have looked into prior suits regarding red light cameras, they would have seen that all that claimed a violation of due process LOST. The complaint should have included wording that has seen success in other states. For example, even though I have NO law degree, I would have drafted something that says something like - "The government had no prior inclination that the driver of my vehicle would commit a violation of Traffic Code Sections 17.07.040 and 17.08.130. In fact, the driver nor the vehicle was previously the target of investigation by law enforcement officers. Every vehicle passing through this particular intersection became a target of a police investigation, for the simple (and legal) fact that they used a public road. Using a public road does not warrant police surveillance and is thus in violation of my Constitutional Right to Privacy." I don't know. Something like that.

defpointe
defpointe

I've received a few of these red light tickets and will not be paying the fines for said tickets.  Last I checked it was legal to make a right turn on a red light except when its otherwise posted.  100 bucks a pop, go home St. Louis you're drunk.

Michael Allen
Michael Allen

That's a groundless assertion, and I'm not gonna argue a hypothetical. The fact remains that his administration spearheaded the installation of these cameras, and he appointed the municipal judges who decide the fate of these tickets. He has been involved every step of the way.

Steve Dixon
Steve Dixon

This has nothing to do with Slay. Whoever was in office would have done this.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

Anyone who thinks they are immune to this needs a punch in the face.

Michael Allen
Michael Allen

Congratulations, everyone who voted for Slay. You just bought yourself four more years of this shit.

Jared Mudd
Jared Mudd

Anyone notice how short the yellow light is at these camera enforced intersections. Entrapment is a word that comes to mind. I got one because I was stuck in an intersection waiting for a homeless woman to cross the street. Of course she didnt get a ticket for Jaywalking. Lol

Phoenix Rising
Phoenix Rising

Me too. Got a ticket for making a right turn and my brake lights were clearly on in the picture. They wouldn't accept my argument and I got a letter from their lawyers. I paid a hundred bucks for making a perfectly legal turn.

Steve Dixon
Steve Dixon

Except I know people who have gotten tickets for making a legal right turn on red. These machines are not infallible. And I know this because I happened to be with them when the incident occurred.

Jillian Beckerman
Jillian Beckerman

If you're not a red-light runner, then you should have no problems. Drivers who are ignorant/careless on the roads, are the only ones who should be threatened by this. Doesn't bother me, because I'm careFUL and attentive!!

rhill8
rhill8

Anyone interested in fighting a Missouri red light camera or speed camera ticket should visit www.redlightphototicket.com.


Nolan_5714
Nolan_5714

@Jillian Beckerman You're also a know it all! Probably a teachers pet who always ate lunch by herself and told on the other kids.


chmccann95
chmccann95

@Jillian Beckerman My daughter was rear ended thanks to these stupid RED LIGHT CAMERAS.  Out of Fear she would get one of these damn tickets she slammed on  her breaks at a yellow light and the car behind her slammed into her at a high speed.  Were still dealing with the med bills and ins crap

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