Articles tagged with: red light cameras

The Last Word on Red Light Cameras in Missouri

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-red-color-traffic-light-image16973177      We previously wrote blogs on various red-light traffic ticket ordinances in Missouri and the fact that the Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled that various ordinances are in conflict with Missouri state law.  One such ordinance that was ruled invalid was the City of Ellisville, Missouri’s ordinance.  The Ellisville City Council just decided to end the use of its red-light cameras and will remove their red-light cameras and terminate their contract with American Traffic Solutions.

     Also, based on the rulings by the Missouri Court of Appeals, various other cities whose ordinances have been determined improper and the company that owns and operates the cameras on the traffic lights appealed the decisions of the Missouri Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Missouri.  The City of Kansas City and American Traffic Solutions, Inc. sought transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court, but this was denied.  (SC93907).  The City of Creve Coeur also sought to transfer a case to the Missouri Supreme Court, but that also was denied.  (SC93947).  What is interesting is that in September 2013, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Florissant, Missouri’s red-light camera ordinance was valid, and the plaintiffs who were ticketed appealed to the Supreme Court of Missouri; that request for transfer was denied as well.  What this suggests is that the Supreme Court of Missouri does not wish to hear issues related to red-light traffic tickets, although they could decide to review a case that was decided by the Court of Appeals if the case was decided on constitutional issues.

     It should be also noted that the City of St. Louis has always claimed that their ordinance on red-light traffic tickets was valid since it did not claim that “no points were assessed” but left that decision to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  However, St. Louis City Judge Steven Ohmer, recently ruled that the city ordinance was invalid.  See Sarah Tupper, et al. v. City of St. Louis, et al., 1322-CC10008. The order granted a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the city from enforcing the red-light camera ordinance, sending out any notices of violation, processing payments on tickets, or sending collection letters relating to the tickets.  The St. Louis City announced that it would appeal Judge Ohmer’s decision.    We will continue to watch this matter and update our blog as events develop.

#redlightcamera   #missourilaw

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STOP! Red Light Confusion

Red light camerasRecently, in Edwards, et al. v. City of Ellisville and American Traffic Solutions, Inc., ED99389 (2013), the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District handed down a ruling invalidating the “red light camera” ordinance of the municipality of Ellisville, Missouri.  Curiously, the same Court upheld a red light camera ordinance in another St. Louis area municipality, Creve Coeur, in 2011.  In their opinion in the Edwards case, the court held that Ellisville’s ordinance violates state law, Section 304.281 RSMo., the statute governing traffic signal violations by drivers and pedestrians. Since that statute does not mention vehicle owners whatsoever, and Ellisville’s ordinance allows tickets to be issued to the owner of the car photographed by the cameras, instead of the driver of the car, the appellate court found that the ordinance was in conflict with state law.  The court also held that the Ellisville ordinance violated other state laws (Sections 302.225 and 302.302 RSMo.) as well, because running a red light is a “moving” violation under state law that requires the conviction to be reported to the Department of Revenue and points be assessed against a person’s license; the Ellisville ordinance classified violations of the ordinance as “non-moving infractions” for which no report would be made to the Department, and no points assessed.  This particular finding in Edwards differed from the holding in the Creve Coeur case; therefore, the Creve Coeur case was overruled and is no longer good law.  The court’s opinion in the Ellisville case made it clear that there would need to be a change in Missouri state law or a revision of relevant municipal red light camera ordinances to eliminate any conflict between an ordinance and state law.

The Edwards ruling could effectively invalidate numerous similar red light camera ordinances throughout Missouri, although it remains to be seen if the Western or Southern appellate districts would hold similarly, or if the Missouri Supreme Court will view the issue in the same manner as the appellate court did in Edwards and affirm that ruling.

It should be noted that the City of St. Louis claims their red light camera ordinance is valid as sufficiently dissimilar from the Ellisville ordinance because the St. Louis City ordinance allows vehicle owners to refute that they were actually driving at the time of the violation.  In addition, St. Louis City does not specifically attempt to classify these violations as “non-moving” violations, but leaves it up to the State of Missouri (which, presumably, will classify them as “moving” violations and assess points). 

The company that operates the Ellisville red light cameras plans to appeal the Edwards ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.  Of course, the Ellisville ruling does not hold that red light cameras are per se unconstitutional, but simply that Ellisville’s particular red light camera ordinance, as written, is invalid.  Therefore, while this ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals seemingly limits the effectiveness of red light cameras as a traffic violation deterrent, in reality, Ellisville and municipalities with similar ordinances can still amend their local red light camera laws to conform to the specific points highlighted by the appellate court. That is exactly what the City of St. Peters did as an immediate proactive response to Edwards, amending their local ordinance to start classifying red light camera convictions in their town as moving violations.

At least one local attorney went on the airwaves after the Edwards ruling to suggest that anyone receiving a “red light camera” ticket simply refuse to pay it. While that may not be bad advice in Ellisville itself pending revision of their ordinance, as a general proposition we think it may be misleading, and is likely to cause much aggravation, wasted time and money for people who receive a red light camera ticket elsewhere. We suggest that anyone who receives a red light camera ticket check the ordinance language of the particular municipality issuing the ticket, and/or seek counsel before presuming that red light camera tickets are simply invalid generally.

#redlighttickets  #trafficviolations    #Americantrafficsolutions    #redlightcamera

Nothing posted on Evidentiary Matters is to be considered legal advice or advertising.   
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.