Mo. Supreme Court Won't Take Up Red Light Cameras; Most Laws Remain Invalid

For years those both in opposition and in favor or red light cameras have complained that the fate of the controversial devices won't be decided until the Missouri Supreme Court weighs in on the matter. Yesterday that wait grew indefinitely longer when the state's highest court denied taking up appellate rulings dealing with the legality of cameras in Creve Coeur, Kansas City and Florissant.

But the courts inaction could be seen as a win for those who've grown to despise the cameras.

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

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.

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Judge Stops Red Light Camera Enforcement in St. Louis City

Ben Schumin on Flickr
No more red-light cameras for St. Louis! For now, at least...
St. Louis City must stop using cameras to ticket drivers for running red lights, a judge ruled Tuesday.

An injunction granted by Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer says the city must stop sending tickets or processing fines for red-light camera violations.

In other words: A judge says St. Louis can't make you pay your red light camera tickets, for now.

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

American Traffic Solutions
A new video shows collisions captured by red light cameras.
Every year, the folks behind Missouri's red light cameras, release a mesmerizing video of the worst crashes or near-collisions captured on red light cameras.

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Can This Simple Letter Get You Out of Paying a Red-Light or Speeding Camera Ticket?

Wikimedia/Intel Free Press
With red-light cameras under so much fire, maybe now's a good time to try and fight those tickets.

Daily RFT is not giving legal advice, but recent events, such as the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruling against the use of red-light cameras in Arnold, is further indication that these cameras are not on firm legal footing. So when a blog about how a Virginia man wrote a letter to dispute his camera ticket that resulted in his fine being dismissed crossed our desk, we were curious.

The letter, which was posted on, said this:

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Court Rules Arnold's Red-Light Camera Ordinance Unconstitutional

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."

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St. Louis City Counselor: Don't Like Red Light Cameras? Don't Drive.

Ben Schuman on Flickr
Don't like stopping at red lights? Please don't drive, says St. Louis' city counselor.
The Missouri Court of Appeals struck down a red-light-camera ordinance in St. Louis County this week, leading St. Louis City residents to wonder what it means for them.

Patricia Hageman, the city's counselor, summed it up in a tweet as impressive for its brevity as it is for its snark:

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Missouri Court Rules Ellisville Red Light Cameras Violate State Law

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."

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North-County Municipalities Hide Speed Cameras Inside Generic-Looking Utility Boxes

Chad Garrison
A speed camera along Page Avenue in Vinita Park.
You know that unassuming roadside box you just drove past? The one that looks like an AT&T U-verse box? Bad news: It just snapped a picture of you doing 40 m.p.h. in a 30. Expect a $100 ticket in the mail soon.

The boxes began going up over the last few months throughout north St. Louis county, with tiny Vinita Park (pop. 1,800) being one of the latest municipalities to get the devices. Vinita Park has three of the cameras and -- like most every similar device in operation in St. Louis County -- all three violate Missouri policy on speed cameras.

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Red-Light Cameras Legal, Court of Appeals Affirms, But Fight Will Continue (UPDATE)

Update below: The Missouri Court of Appeals has once again ruled that the controversial red-light cameras are legal and that municipalities have a right to regulate traffic in this manner. The decision today -- affirming key parts of a lower court's dismissal -- is tied to a Florissant case challenging the local ordinance.

The takeaway message, according to American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the company that owns and operates the cameras, is that folks with violations have to treat them seriously.

"You can't ignore it," says Jane Dueker, St. Louis-based attorney representing ATS. "If you have arguments about the validity of your citation, you need to go to court and present them. You don't get to just do nothing."

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