Missouri Court Rules Ellisville Red Light Cameras Violate State Law

redlightcamera.jpg
Jonas Bengtsson on Flickr
Red light cameras
The Missouri Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Ellisville's red-light-camera ordinance violates state law. The ruling also suggests that similar laws in other municipalities are unenforceable.

When a driver gets busted by one of Ellisville's cameras for running a red light, the vehicle's owner -- not the driver -- is fined $100, according to the city's ordinance.

The court of appeals ruled today that punishing the owner instead of the driver goes against state law, which says rules apply "to drivers of vehicles and pedestrians."

"It's a decision that I know Missourians across the state have been waiting for," says Ryan Keane, who tried this case for the appellants with the Simon Law Firm. "It's holding the feet of [American Traffic Solutions Inc.] and municipalities like Ellisville to the fire, making them responsible for having camera programs that are not abusive and that are in compliance with state law."

The decision comes days after a judge dismissed a St. Peters woman's ticket because convictions based on red-light cameras don't result in penalty points -- a legal marker for a motoring offense -- added to a driver's license, which is a violation of state law.

See also: Judge Upholds Ellisville's Red Light Cameras

The St. Peters case comes short of declaring what the court of appeals decided for Ellisville: that the entire ordinance violates state law.

redlightcamera1.jpg
Sylvar on Flickr
"I think this could spell the beginning of the end for many red-light camera systems in the state that continue to abuse the laws that are put in place to protect Missouri drivers," Keane says.

See also: Rash of Lawsuits Challenge Red-Light Camera Ordinances; Cities and Camera Company Sued

But not so fast, says Jane Dueker, attorney for ATS, the Arizona-based firm that operates the cameras for Ellisville. Dueker notes that today's ruling contradicts the appellate court's 2011 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the red-light cameras in Creve Coeur.

"No one panel [on the court] is stronger than another," says Dueker. "Now we have a conflict within the court, which is extremely rare and causes confusion. That said, today's ruling is not going to change any program. Cameras are not going away."

At worst, Dueker says, that the ruling will require a procedural change on the part of Ellisville law that allows for a "rebuttal of presumption" for car owners who claim they weren't driving when their car was ticketed.

Dueker says that ATS plans on asking the state's court of appeals to rehear the case. If that doesn't happen, the company will ask the Missouri Supreme Court to review the case and provide cities with standardized rules to follow. The state's highest court has only heard one case involving red-light cameras, and that suit did not touch on the core legal questions surrounding the devices.

Read the court's full decision after the jump.

My Voice Nation Help
28 comments
Shaun Coruble
Shaun Coruble

And we have more and more of them here in Sydney and all over NSW.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

Good, they should be forced to pay back everyone that's ever paid one of those tickets.

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

Ellisville is a nice town governed by morons.

Sandi Brown
Sandi Brown

Down with the Camera's and Hire a Police Officer!!'

Craig Mitchell
Craig Mitchell

How about Downtown where there are many of these? My GPS kindly warns me of them. But it nonetheless, pisses me off.

billj598
billj598 topcommenter

About time !!  

Now they need to rule that those illegally ticketed should be entitled to sue and collect for damages!  Shut these thieving and unconstitutional pick-pockets and the Fiefdoms that employ them down for good ! 

Hayek
Hayek

It is very interesting that the local "main stream media" has made a proactive effort to not cover this development. In fact, the Post Dispatch ran some 5 stories on Nottebrok, yet then when Nottebrok is overturned, they are silent. Guess Callow, Roth, Rhode, and the usual suspects are afraid of losing that money if folks found out all of these municipal ordinances are now void and unenforceable. I am just amazed at the pull they still exert in editorial discretion at the Post Disgrace.

And Dueker is off her rocker. The Eastern District issued an order last night certifying that the opinion had been reviewed en banc in accordance with Missouri Supreme Court Rule 22.01 when a previous decision is overturned. http://www.scribd.com/doc/182050104/Ellisville-Red-Light-Camera-Case-Missouri-En-Banc-Order-pdf

Eric Farlow
Eric Farlow

Exactly this. We have had the capabilities to integrate sensor technology to greatly improve traffic for a long time, but we still stick to this backwards system where everybody loses. Instead of using that money on making sure we no longer have to sit perpendicular to two lights going between green, yellow and red for twenty minutes, they go and strap these fancy cameras to our lights. What's next, stop sign cameras? Black boxes that charge our credit card for each mile over the speed limit? Does anyone know why every car goes up to 120-160 MPH when the maximum speed limit for 90% the country is 80? They just want money.

Eric Farlow
Eric Farlow

And even then, do we outlaw sunglasses? Would it encourage people to drive even more recklessly, holding their hand up to the windshield to cover their faces? All of it has to go.

dregstudios1
dregstudios1

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

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

So...we need another law. A law that states that yellow lights should have to be so many seconds related to the distance that must be traveled and the routine traffic congestion in the intersection. Example: Creve Coeur's short light and very wide intersection has resulted in tickets for me. I now will not enter the intersection unless I am first or second in line when the green light freshly turns. If I am any slower than that I end up stuck in the intersection or just barely making it when the light turns yellow then very quickly to red. I think there have been many discussions about this particular light. They become cash cows for these struggling municipalities. I think the cameras are parasites on the public. How about using the cameras to identify that there is no one in the intersection and allowing us to proceed instead of donating pieces of our life sitting at a red light in an empty intersection? Like when I find myself driving around at 3 in the morning? That would impress me greatly.

Teri Chadwick
Teri Chadwick

Does this mean I get my $$$ back when my stepson ran a STL city camera light??

Marc Seleman
Marc Seleman

Good. If these police departments truly mean to improve safety then get them on the streets instead of sitting behind their desks. Go by any police station and all the cars are parked there instead of patrolling.

grahamccollins1
grahamccollins1

West county republicans don't want to pay taxes, yet still want their trash picked up. Somebody's got to pay for it. Good luck, motorists.

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

This is great news, hopefully the beginning of the end for all red light cameras in Missouri.  Red light cameras are always used for profits, never for safety, because if the cameras ticketed only dangerous drivers the fines would not even pay the high camera costs. 

The Police Officers Association of Michigan, the ACLU, the Campaign for Liberty, a representative of the judges, the Mackinac Center and the National Motorists Association used testimony and public opposition to the bills that would have brought red light cameras to Michigan and the bills were stopped.

Missouri residents should contact their state legislators to ask that the cameras be banned by law statewide.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association



Bart Cohn
Bart Cohn

Ellisville is a cool town, many businesses there I used to patronize frequently when I lived in STL, Lifetime Fitness, Corner Pub, many others. BUT, their law enforcement techniques are very heavy handed, obvious revenue generators. I hope the elected officials in that town can see the bigger picture, help businesses succeed rather than ringing up visitors for all kinds of "violations".

Jon Todaro
Jon Todaro

Moving violations have to be levied on an individual. Only things like parking tickets can be levied against the vehicle. Without a valid picture of the driver that can identify them, nothing can be done.

billj598
billj598 topcommenter

@Eric Farlow Correctomundo!  Traffic Citations are nothing but a source of revenue ! 

billj598
billj598 topcommenter

@Joe-Well Sure-Vin Agreed but the thieving Camera mfrs. or the disgusting Municipality then turn you over to a Collection Agency that sets about ruining your Credit rating ! 

mhay1204
mhay1204

@Teri Chadwick Not if you paid it. It is considered "voluntary payment" which means you essentially "donated" to the government, even if the government made a mistake of law.

Now Trending

St. Louis Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...