Yesterday the Missouri Supreme Court released its long-awaited opinions regarding red light camera ordinances in our state. The court ruled that the St. Louis red-light camera ordinance violates the constitution because it more or less forces a defendant to actually prove that he was not the one driving the car through a red light. The court also said that St. Peters’ law – which treats these violations as “moving violations” but issues no points to their driver’s record – violates state law and is thus void. A similar ordinance enacted in Moline Acres was also struck down by the court.
So what does this all mean?
What if I received a red light ticket in St. Louis City and paid the fine?
That fine money went into an escrow account while the City waited for the Supreme Court to rule on this. Now that they ruled in favor of drivers, that money should go back to you. According to this article in the Post-Dispatch, the City will issue refunds to all drivers soon, but have not yet worked out the details on how and when these refunds will be issued.
What I received a red light ticket in St. Louis City but haven’t paid my fine yet?
Don’t pay the fine, throw the ticket in the trash.
So are red light cameras a thing of the past in Missouri?
Not exactly. While they’re not in use now, St. Louis and a number of municipalities say that they’re planning on enacting new ordinances that comply with the court’s ruling. For example, new laws would have to place two points on your driver’s record just as if a police officer caught you running a red light. Also, to get around the tricky issue of actually proving who was driving, the companies that run these red light cameras will need to upgrade their technology to provide courts and drivers with clear pictures of who was driving the vehicle, rather than just take a picture of the plates. Buried in this article it says that companies such as American Traffic Solutions already have this type of technology in place in states such as California and Colorado.
So while red-light cameras are not operating in Missouri at this time, they may be back soon.