Another Judge Rules Saint Louis’ Red Light Camera System Unconstitutional
Once again, a Saint Louis City judge has found that the city’s red light cameras are unconstitutional. Yesterday, Judge Theresa Counts Burke sided with a ruling in February that found that the City of Saint Louis’ red light camera system violates due process. Missouri Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Dist. 1), a long-time critic of red light cameras, brought forth the case.
Saint Louis City’s system violates due process because tickets sent to alleged violators do not contain information about a court hearing date or the right to contest. That means, attorney Bevis Schock (a Show-Me Institute board member) told KMOX, that “. . . there’s no way the defendant, the person receiving the notice, understands that there’s a right to a hearing.”
Hopefully this ruling will help bring about the elimination of red light cameras in Missouri. In our state, red light cameras have not been shown to increase safety. But they are popular, perhaps because they can help a city raise a great deal of revenue from traffic tickets.
This latest ruling throws the continued operation of red light cameras in Saint Louis City into question. One Saint Louis attorney has said that he would advise family members to not pay red light camera tickets because the penalty for the ticket appears to be just threatening letters from a company in Texas.
In related news, at the most recent Columbia City Council meeting, city officials reported that the installation of red light cameras had resulted in more than a four-fold increase in tickets. The city has issued more than 3,500 tickets since the cameras were installed in September 2009, compared to an average of about 330 tickets before the cameras were installed.
And earlier this year, Kansas City found that red light cameras in its city had not increased safety, as promised. In fact, the study found that both accidents and fatal accidents had increased at a majority of intersections where red light cameras are installed.
For more information about the policy questions regarding red light cameras, watch Show-Me Institute Policy Analyst David Stokes’ recent vlog on the Saint Louis red light camera issue, or check out our “Policing By Camera” panel discussion with Lembke, Saint Louis Alderman Antonio French, and Redditt Hudson of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).