Missouri Red Light Cameras: Not the Picture You Want
In 2018, around 30 cities in Missouri have red light cameras installed and have led to quite the number of traffic violations, tickets, and admittedly unhappy citizens.
Whether you are a truck driver for a business or a motorist minding his or her own business, the sight of a red light camera near stops may seem daunting and actually pretty terrifying.
I understand the need for good law enforcement, but sometimes overkill is overkill. At the chance of being seen as paranoid, I don’t want to have Big Brother breathing down our necks.
I would say some clients think the same.
Admittedly, some much-needed changes are already in place, with signs stating that a red light camera is near. There is also an important legal update with a case that motorists should know about.
The Legal and Logistical Problems with Red Light Camera Traffic Tickets
First, a red light camera may seem sophisticated, but they actually are not. Motorists may receive a harsh fine and unnecessary tickets due to an error.
Take note that a captured picture by a red light camera does not automatically mean a ticket. A technician or police officer is supposed to review what the red light camera captured.
Imagine an officer not only dealing with the day to day task of patrolling but also checking the images after a long and tiring day. Mistakes can be made, which can lead to incorrect tickets for innocent motorists who likely are abiding the law.
How about motorists using bikes and motorcycles?
I love traveling with my motorcycle, without forgetting my helmet, but these red light camera flashes can distract me.
These distracting lights do more than just annoy you. Motorists and bicyclist may speed up or hit the brakes, which can have unintended traffic consequences.
The state may also have difficulty finding the motorists properly.
Lastly, business owners may scratch their heads why they received a ticket when they have not left the house. Since the system automatically sends the ticket to the owner of the plate number, an innocent law-abiding citizen may receive an incorrect ticket.
Update: the system wherein the owner automatically receives the ticket has now changed and innocent vehicle owners can successfully protest the ticket.
The Case of Tupper v. City of St. Louis, 468 S.W.3d 360 (2015)
Around March 2012 to September 2013, two notices for failing to stop at a red light was sent to Ms. Tupper. Attached with the notice is a fine for $100.
Ms. Tupper did not pay the fine and filed a case claiming ordinance 66868 is unconstitutional. The case reached the Supreme Court which then ruled that the state has the burden of proof to show that the violator is the driver.
Basically, the ordinance cannot make the assumption that the driver who made the violation is the owner of the vehicle. Unless the evidence is clear and convincing, business owners and the ordinary motorist can appeal.
While the red light camera can make the process of finding violators faster, some motorists still get invalid tickets. Others simply accept the violation, thinking it will take a lot more time, money and effort protesting the ticket.