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

A red-light camera catches a crash in St. Louis City. - American Traffic Solutions
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."

It's watching you. - 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 [email protected].

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