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Can Missouri Red-Light Camera Tickets Be Thrown Away?

Posted on April 28th, 2008 in , | 32 Comments

trash
Recent news reports out of St. Louis, Missouri seem to suggest that it’s safe to ignore red-light camera tickets in certain parts of the state.

The Columbia Missourian explains:

“Because most red-light cameras take a picture only of the car — not the driver — it’s difficult for cities here and around the country to make people pay.

Officials acknowledge that, for now, there’s little they can do.

“If you threw it in the trash,” says St. Louis Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr., chairman of the aldermanic Traffic Committee, “nothing would happen.”

In St. Louis, the cameras have raised more than $1.4 million since they were activated nearly a year ago. But many of the fines are going uncollected. In Arnold, about 30 percent of the citations issued from October 2005 through January had not been paid. The nonpayment rate in St. Louis is about 35 percent.

“Right now, we have no active program to go after these people other than request that they comply with the law,” said Timothy W. Kelly, the municipal judge in Florissant.”

The appeal of extra cash for the city budget has prompted quite a few Missouri cities (including Moline Acres, a hamlet less than a square mile in size) to install the cameras despite the fact that they are not sanctioned by the state.

As more people have figured out that the tickets are easily ignored, cities have become more aggressive (and arguably unethical) in their quest to extract money from motorists.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch points to Creve Coeur as an example of this:

“The cameras are not sanctioned by the state, sometimes leaving cities to rely on model ordinances drafted by the for-profit camera companies — who get a slice of each ticket. […]

Creve Coeur does not take pictures of drivers but has been able to maintain close to a 90 percent collection rate on red-light camera fines. Part of its success may have to do with the fine print of the municipal code.

Last year, Creve Coeur established the infraction of “violation of public safety at intersections,” committed when a “motor vehicle of which that person is an owner is present in an intersection” while the traffic signal is red. The law applies only at intersections with cameras. It also allows the city to prosecute individuals for simply not responding to a citation notice. […]

The approach — crafting new laws narrowly tailored to help aid camera enforcement — strikes one expert as dubious.

“It’s what they did to Al Capone,” said St. Louis University law professor Eric J. Miller. “They really wanted Al Capone for racketeering, but they could only prove tax violations. This is worse. Here they are creating a specific crime to punish you because they cannot get you on the first crime.”

So in conclusion, if you receive an unfair red-light camera ticket in Missouri, you may be able to ignore it without consequence. However, due to differences in the local ordinances across the state — like the one in Creve Coeur — this isn’t always a smart option.

At a minimum, always look up the ordinance you’ve been charged under before you decide what to do with your ticket.

Image Credit: LWY


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32 Responses to “Can Missouri Red-Light Camera Tickets Be Thrown Away?”

  1. thedoo says:

    I know nothing can be done about the creve-coeur photo enforced stop lights. I tried to do it through legitimate means, such as is there anything legislatively or it getting signatures I could do and there's nothing. I suggest paint ball guns be used at the cameras. If you get caught it will be a cheap remedy. or I suggest go go to court I know creve-coeur doesn't have an additional court cost. And express your displeasure to the judge and who ever is listening! many go to court and act meek. You must treat the prosecutor and judge with respect. Don't be afraid to tell them what's on your mind. If enough people would do this it would be changed! but no we act like sheep like lemmings and shiny metal boxes, Police song!

  2. Numbski says:

    Hazelwood just dinged me. There are a pair of camera intersections I’m forced to go through in order to get to work – Missouri Bottom and Lindbergh, as well as J. S. McDonnell and Lindbergh.

    Well, I got a citation today for 11 days ago that states I ran I red light. It has two pictures on it, one of me stopped at a red light, and another of me having made a right turn at said light. My jaw dropped at the stupidity, then I read the back that states this, in bold text where all other text is plain:

    “If you were making a right hand turn at the time of the incident, videotape shows that you failed to come to a COMPLETE STOP before making the turn as required by Ordinance 315.095.”

    This is a gross abuse of the average driver’s understanding of how to drive. In the pictures I have here, no one was in the intersection coming from any direction, my vehicle’s brake lights were active, and from all indications, a very safe right hand turn was completed.

    The citation directs you to the e-commerce site http://www.violationinfo.com to view images and video. The video is however broken, because it requires Windows Media Player, AND provides the wrong content-type information, leaving me with no recourse but to visit Hazelwood City Hall to view the video.

    Oh, one more thing. The bottom of that same notice states:

    “This violation is a non-moving infraction and no points will be assessed.”

    WHAT???

    So let me get this straight. I stop (but apparently not completely), then make a right turn on red. My vehicle is MOVING. But it’s not a moving violation? Right….that would be so that you can duck the rules involved in charging someone with a moving violation.

    Your money machine at work. Citation is for $100. So I’m going to give them $100 and then some of pure torment for taking the time to hack me off. They’ve custom-written a law to make them money, which is BS. I contacted Hazelwood police about this EXACT intersection because I wind up having to run the light on a left turn on my motorcycle because the light never changes. It’s insane, and it’s stupid.

    I haven’t decided how many different types of grief I feel like causing the city of Hazelwood, but make no mistake – they’ve now gotten my ire and I’m not going to stop until those cameras are gone or irrepairably disabled, by hook or by crook.

    • Numbski says:

      Perhaps we need to remind our local government of how the English locals deal with this camera enforcement stupidity?

      http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm

      If law enforcement suddenly had to worry about arson of these cameras, perhaps they’d re-think the issue? Causing violence by trying to generate revenue? Maybe that’s what it takes to FINALLY get their attention.

      I’m not the violent type, I wouldn’t personally do this, but sometimes I wonder if that’s what it takes to get things changed. :(

    • Kaustubh Thapa says:

      I happen to make right on a Sunday, with cars miles away. I did not come to COMPLETE STOP but reduced down to 12 mph before making my right on the dead street. Couple weeks later, I get a notice. Phew! As a student in Fulton, 2 hours from St. Louis, I have to sacrifice a whole day to go to the Courthouse, and the court time conflicts with my studies. Failure to show up means $75 more. It’s just plane BS , its not a red light violation, and given the fact that street was more empty than a desert. I think the woman “officer” who issued me the ticket do not have a pinch of common sense in her, or she is just a machine refrain from humane judgement. There goes a big chunk of monthly income for a student.

  3. igspstl says:

    I just sent Creve Coeur City Administrator Mr. Mark Perkins (mperkins@ci.creve-coeur.mo.us) the following email:

    *******************

    Dear Mr. Perkins,

    I just got a “Red Light” ticket in the mail from the City of Creve Coeur in the amount of $100.

    Since according to your new ordinance I can’t refuse to pay, I have decided not to spend a dime of my money in the various establishments (gas stations, restaurants, stores, etc.) located within your city until you will lose at least $200 in tax revenue from me. I also will ask other people (trough the power of internet) to respond to your tickets in the same way.

    Hopefully it will help you to better understand my feelings in regards to this ordinance.

    Regards,

    *******************

    I think it is the best way to “vote” against this ordinance: with my $$$

  4. Joe Wolf KCPD retired says:

    Put these camera in neighborhoods that have nightly drive-by shootings and attempt to get their I.D. instead of John and Jane Doe worker trying to make a living and driving to work and back everyday. They don’t need the additional burden of more to worry about as ‘Big Brother’ watches there every movement.

    The money for cameras, maintenence, additional Officers, judges, prosecutors, and clerical personnel can be better spent catching gang bangers that kill innocent bystanders in their own neighborhoods where the victims refuse to assist the police in identifiying who is killing their own children, and only have superficial vigils with candle lighting ceremonies and phony leaders with their own agendas promoting hate and racial devision by blaming the working stiff for not sharing what they earn with them.

    We should have ACORN pay for the cameras in the ‘HOOD’ instead of buying votes for their rich leaders and parasitic lawyers.




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