Red-Light Cameras Are Back On in St. Louis, With One Small Twist

crashbetter.jpg
American Traffic Solutions
A red-light camera catches a crash in St. Louis City.
St. Louis City is turning its red-light cameras back on after a judge suspended -- or delayed -- his decision that the program is invalid.

There's one small change: Because the final decision on traffic cameras in Missouri will probably be up to the state Supreme Court, the city is collecting fines from new red-light tickets in an escrow account. If the higher court rules against the cameras, everyone will get that money back.

See our previous story: Judge Stops Red Light Camera Enforcement in St. Louis City

"There are a total of six conflicting decisions across the state of Missouri dealing with red-light-camera safety programs," says St. Louis City Counselor Michael Garvin. "Until those issues are decided by the Missouri Supreme Court, there is no clear guidance on how cities' red-light safety camera programs should operate. We believe we have a good case for the Supreme Court to decide."

redlightcamera1.jpg
Sylvar on Flickr
It's watching you.
St. Louis is appealing Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer's ruling last week that red-light cameras are invalid and that the city should stop issuing tickets or collecting fines.

"We strongly believe that local law enforcement know how best to protect our citizens," said St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson. "Red-light safety cameras have saved lives, reduced crashes and improved driving behavior in St. Louis and across the state."

In 2012, a deadly crash caught by a red-light camera helped law enforcement solve an outstanding murder. The city says there are 150 cases where police have requested video from red-light cameras to assist in investigations.

See also: Red Light Cameras Capture St. Louis' Worst Car Crashes of 2013: Video

City spokeswoman Maggie Crane says St. Louis may also look to the legislature for clarification on the cameras' legality.

Missouri courts have recently ruled that red-light cameras violate the state constitution because they punish the owner, not necessarily the driver, of the car, in cases out of Arnold, Ellisville, Kansas City, Creve Coeur and Hazelwood.

St. Louis has collected more than $32 million from red-light camera tickets since 2008, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. A third of that goes to the private contractor operating the cameras, American Traffic Solutions, based in Tempe, Arizona.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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51 comments
Chris Gwin
Chris Gwin

I got a ticket from one of tho see once

Andrew Stapleton
Andrew Stapleton

These have nothing to do with safety, its simply about towns making money.

Edward Hecker
Edward Hecker

I have no problem with cameras in high crime and high traffic public places. I have a big problem with the ticket revenue going to a private company and a law firm out of state. Revenues should go to the Police and Streets budgets. Private sector involvment encourages ticket generation for profit rather than safety or justice.

Edward Hecker
Edward Hecker

Money. Cameras used to generate ticket revenue are easier to sustain than cameras that require taxpayer approval and money for no financial return.

Keith Stephens
Keith Stephens

Slow down when the light changes from green to yellow? Nope, wrong . Go back to driving school.

Elizabeth Grill
Elizabeth Grill

Because the proof of redlight cameras is fewer accidents from people going through red lights, why are their still so many accidents caught on camera? The point is that the accidents from going through red lights aren't caused by people choosing to go through them and theoretically choosing NOT to go through them because cameras are there, but rather by people who are not paying attention, which camera enforcement will not change.

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

Traffic laws are about what the driver is supposed to be doing, not the owner of the vehicle. If the owner of the vehicle gets responsibilty for everything it does the ticket would get sent to the bank holding the title until you pay off the loan.

Dan Porter
Dan Porter

"If you knew the person you're still responsible." huh? how does that make any sense?

Anna IstayWoke Kemper
Anna IstayWoke Kemper

I hate those things so much. If you want to have them to "help cops fight crime" just use CCTV like everyone else in the world and stop charging people $100 a pop. That's groceries for two damn weeks! Esp. when the things aren't accurate!

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

I know Sandra Hughes Johansen you got to watch everywhere. I see it all day on the road. I've been seriously thinking of putting a dash cam in my car. Put the videos up on fb.

Dave Hood
Dave Hood

what part of "GET RID OF THE JUDGES DON'T ANYONE UNDERSTAND "

Sandra Hughes Johansen
Sandra Hughes Johansen

Scott, when I was walking to the grocery store at Loughborough and 55, I came close to getting run over from people speeding up to get though the yellow. And don't get me started on people making right turns on red. I had to start cutting through the park and cross the street a block up from the intersection because I was afraid I was going to get run over.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

Just today about a half hour ago. Had I not been watching I would have gotten broad sided at Gravois and sappington. Car was going over the limit 40 mph. Flew right through a good 3-4 seconds after I had the green.

Christina Fox Dickherber
Christina Fox Dickherber

I'm pretty sure it was an employee, but I can't prove anything except that it wasn't me.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

How did that person get your keys? Or was your car stolen? If you knew the person you're still responsible. You need to go after him/her.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

Red light cameras work perfectly fine in Germany. They take a close up picture of the driver. What is the problem in St. Louis?

Scott Tuthill
Scott Tuthill

It's all about the MONEY!!!!! Seems like safety is secondary....

Dallas Keller
Dallas Keller

Oh those cameras save lives? Oh do they catch criminals? Horse shit. Where is David M. Hagerty's killer? Oh right. They never caught him.

Brad Field
Brad Field

I wish they would put those on the lights at Fayette and maple, they could collect thousands of dollars a day on people running the light.

Sandra Hughes Johansen
Sandra Hughes Johansen

If they have to give all that money back, then they should have to divvy up the interest and give that to whoever gets their money back.

Sandra Hughes Johansen
Sandra Hughes Johansen

I guess the city will keep the interest it make off the money in that escrow account too.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

Randal you are wrong. Question How do you prove a negative ? Do you lock your doors at night ? Isn't that unfair to burglars ?

Robb Tobias
Robb Tobias

I got sideswiped on south grand a few years ago. The driver left the scene. Police refused to request video from traffic camera. Alas I had to pay for the damage.

Courtney Ringle
Courtney Ringle

Well i think it could be a good idea. while not using them for ticketing, they can use them to record accidents and use the tape for evidence to see who caused it.

Lori N Tim Fowler
Lori N Tim Fowler

So why can't there be cameras to help crime, and used to view accidents instead of cameras used to punish people who run red lights?

ranelsonjr
ranelsonjr

" The city says there are 150 cases where police have requested video from red-light cameras to assist in investigations." that is their reasoning in the article for keeping them. What the hell does that have to do with issuing fines? You can still use it as a camera without giving people tickets. Well good luck issuing me a ticket on one of these things, I learned from the Blues Brothers that you never give the government your real address. I wonder if they recognize the address as busch stadium when they mail the ticket.

Nikki Koehler
Nikki Koehler

there were 2 tickets issued to my vehicle for the same time and date with different court dates and different case #'s!!! one states Points will be issues to my license and the other does not!

Ricky Nelson
Ricky Nelson

" The city says there are 150 cases where police have requested video from red-light cameras to assist in investigations." that is their reasoning in the article for keeping them. What the hell does that have to do with issuing fines? You can still use it as a camera without giving people tickets. Well good luck issuing me a ticket on one of these things, I learned from the Blues Brothers that you never give the government your real address. I wonder if they recognize the address as busch stadium when they mail the ticket.

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

In this country, one has the right to face their accuser in trial.

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

They are keeping the funds in escrow so they have something to pay off the judge with later.

Justin Smith
Justin Smith

So they are still going to make money off of the interest. Fuck them I would not pay a red light ticket if I got one!

Christina Fox Dickherber
Christina Fox Dickherber

These cameras are bs... I'm one of those people that own the car & someone else was driving it while I was out of town... I showed the judge hotel receipts with a copy of my license on them saying I was checking in at a hotel in Georgia... I couldn't PROVE who was driving it, I could only prove it wasn't me.... I still had to pay the fine. Makes it seem like proving your innocence no longer matters to the courts.

proud2b4family
proud2b4family

Define "blowing red lights". People get tickets from these robots even when a cop would've ignored it because it's 2am and there's nobody on the street and it was a close to stopping rolling stop right before the light turned green.

The fact is these devices destroy constitutional due process. You don't get to face your accuser, examine the original, unaltered evidence, and you don't get to appeal. It's "pay up or we fine you more". Quite simply, it's extortion and blackmail. If cities are truly concerned about actual traffic safety, they'll stop spending money on consultants and technology boondoggles and put human police officers back on regular beat patrols. 


If a particular intersection has a reputation for red light scofflaws, then a real, homo sapiens police officer ought to be parked at the intersection both to send a message to would-be violators and to chase down the ones who do blow red lights and put them in cuffs before they blow the NEXT one!

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