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Court Rules Arnold's Red-Light Camera Ordinance Unconstitutional

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The Missouri Court of Appeals came down hard yesterday on Arnold's red-light camera ordinance, ruling it violates the state's constitution.

Like the many similar ordinances in Missouri, Arnold's arraignment with the Arizona-based Automated Traffic Solutions, Inc. relies on photos taken of vehicles driving through red lights. The photos, however, don't identity the actual driver, only the vehicle's owner.

Ryan Keane, who argued the case for the appellants with The Simon Law Firm, tells Daily RFT that Arnold's ordinance effectively "shifted the burden of proof" onto the vehicle's owner to prove that he or she wasn't the driver who ran the red light.

The court found this unconstitutional, writing in its decision that: "This would infringe upon a fundamental canon and procedure of this country's and this state's criminal justice system: an accused is deemed innocent until proven guilty."

See also: Missouri Court Rules Ellisville Red Light Cameras Violate State Law

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via Flickr/Ben Schuman

The fact that Arnold's ordinance doesn't assign "points" to a driver's record when they're busted by ATS's camera is also a problem: According to the state, running a red is a moving violation, and by sidestepping the points the ordinance breaks state law.

"This is a great decision for people who believe that red-light-cameras are unlawful revenue generating schemes that don't really have any impact on public safety," Keane says. "

Last month the Court of Appeals ruled that Ellisville's red-light-camera ordinance violated state law for punishing the owner of the car rather than the driver.

There will likely be more challenges to be brought against Arnold's red-light-camera system. In yesterday's ruling, Judge Roy L. Richter pointed out the system does not appear to promote safety.

Ricther wrote:

The Ordinance does not assess points against the driver's license for violation of the Ordinance, thereby authorizing unsafe drivers to remain behind the wheels of vehicles. This is paradoxical to safety. Why would a municipality enact an ordinance permitting a driver to run 100 red lights and, yet, remain on the road, left to endanger other drivers?

Ricther also reels off a number of arguments suggesting the ordinance exists primarily to increase the city's revenue:

The Ordinance authorizes Arnold to prosecute the owner of the vehicle, not the actual driver of the vehicle, thereby decreasing the municipal resources expended by City and increasing their revenue. Why would a municipality enact an ordinance that permitted the prosecution of innocent individuals, while increasing the funds collected?

These questions will be sent back to a lower court for further deliberation.

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

It's hard to find the bottom line here. Granted, the appellate courts' rulings in Arnold and Ellisville and Flourissant (where it also ruled the cameras broke state law by not assigning "points.") are serious legal blows to ATS and its partner cities.

But in June the court ruled in that technically St. Louis' red-light-camera ordinance is constitutional. The presiding judge of that case, Kurt Odenwald, wrote in his conclusion that red-light-camera are not fundamentally different from a radar gun, in that both technologies simply allow for more "aggressive and accurate enforcement of existing traffic regulations."

ATS attorney Ed Dowd wants the Missouri Supreme Court to step in since the Missouri Court of Appeals' ruling are "inconsistent as to how those ordinances should be enforced," and describes the current situation a "landscape of confusion."

Here's Dowd's statement:

While not yet final, today's opinion from the Missouri Court of Appeals in Brunner further conflicts with previous rulings of that Court. While the Court of Appeals has uniformly recognized the authority of local municipalities to enact red-light camera ordinances, its decisions are inconsistent as to how those ordinances should be enforced. Red-light safety camera programs were enacted to change driver behavior. In Missouri, nearly 9 out of 10 drivers who have received a violation have not received a second one.

Read the rest of Dowd's statement and court's full decision after the jump


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39 comments
Jeff Tiberend
Jeff Tiberend

All this is is a money grab. While it may make some intersections safe. I thought they had to prove it was you who was driving through the red light.

Matt Dresner
Matt Dresner

I agree with a $100 fine for running a red light. What I disagree with is that for example making a right turn on a red light on any corner that is not photo enforced may have a penalty of $40, on a red light camera corner, that same offense is $100 unless you go to court. That is where the safety v revenue argument is skewed to the $$$ side of the equation.

Kim Juenger
Kim Juenger

Titusville florida just installed a bunch on us 1!!

Dave Lange
Dave Lange

How about, don't break the law ? Then no worries about fines.

Sanz Wilson
Sanz Wilson

Arnold cops are d-bags like byrnes mill cops

Tina Wagner
Tina Wagner

Yeah, got the same greeting last Christmas from Florissant for $100. Stupid me, I paid it.

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

I used to live in Arnold (not from there!) and I got a ticket in the mail stating my vehicle had run a red light and I was to pay the fine or a warrant would be issued for my arrest. Having a brain, and understanding that was illegal, I marched down to city hall. I was told that the warning of arrest was a printing mistake and a lien would be placed on my plates if left unpaid. They need the cameras as their police are WAYYYYY to fat and pathetic to actually do any work, getting out of their cars is a work out for those donut busters.

Charring Connett
Charring Connett

Still never paid mine. I should ask a lawyer friends advice. They are bs.

Tom Jeffery
Tom Jeffery

I actually went to court in hazelwood and fought a red light ticket which was actually a ticket for not coming to a complete stop when making a right on red. These are people getting paid to watch videos of intersections for infractions. They forward a clip of the infraction to a police officer for them to write the ticket. I actually beat the ticket. Not sure why but the judge dismissed it. But everyone before me said that they were not driving the vehicle. The judge said that did not matter and they could appeal it in Clayton. That was my experience.

Sarah Stum
Sarah Stum

I wonder if toll road cameras could also be deemed unconstitutional? I had a relative run up a hefty bill using my car. Which is why I ask.

Steve Horak
Steve Horak

Yeah Florissant can O&**(&%^&$^#(@)&*$^(@^(@$^(@$^@(^#(@)#&^(@^$_(*@^_$@*^#&*(_#^@&*#^*&@^$*(_&^$@)*#)(^$&*%@*(^ too!!! lol

Steve Horak
Steve Horak

Tony is a douche. Sending me hate mail now.

Alex Asrar
Alex Asrar

Tony Parente calm down. Its okay.

Mswazi Msanii
Mswazi Msanii

Camera Lights are a rip off..in some places lights turn from green to red giving only 1second to yellow lights..in those few seconds somebody chasing $100 for 8hours loses the $100 in few seconds to a greedy corporation.Sorry but the camera lights are for profit not safety.

Homer K Blua
Homer K Blua

Those lights make it hazy there's no human judgement involved.... I've had camera light tickets a cop would only issue if he was fishing.... And paid them because it just seemed easier... So it's about time

Andrea Luther
Andrea Luther

I have three... Never paid for them yet. They can't make you pay for them.

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

If you don't stop like you're legally required to at a red light you deserve a ticket.

Wayne Farley
Wayne Farley

you can make a right turn on a red light camera and they try to give you a ticket

Ticktick Boomer
Ticktick Boomer

^^ This guy is exactly right. The bigger picture is the fact that our governments are trying to strangle us with laws.

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

You are the Bill Clinton of red lights. "Define running" lololol

Scott Patrick Brown
Scott Patrick Brown

So are they going to refund all the fines that were already illegally collected?

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

The bigger picture being that people don't want to pay a fine for running red lights.

Chris Davis
Chris Davis

That awesome moment when I'm cruising down the highway while Steve Horak is sitting at a stoplight.

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

That awesome moment when the guy complaining about red light cameras has a facebook profile picture of him taking a picture of himself while driving his car.

Drew Patterson
Drew Patterson

This article could use some editing. "Arraignment" and "Flourissant."

Steve Horak
Steve Horak

That not so awesome moment when you realize your comment is irrelevant

Gina Evans
Gina Evans

They shld all be gone! It is not a safety thing, but a $$ thing

Jim Volner
Jim Volner

A money grab so some corrupt city official can imbezzel all the money!

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

That awesome moment when I've never gotten a red light camera ticket because I don't run red lights.

Mary Evelyn Decker
Mary Evelyn Decker

can I get my money back now, and the time it butt hurt my nerves?

Paranormal Task Force
Paranormal Task Force

They have been shut down in the first states that had them, before they came to Missouri ... I guess civic leaders were just hoping the cash registers on the poles in Missouri would be different.

Steve Horak
Steve Horak

Can we go after Hazelwood now? Shut em down. Give everybody a refund

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