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City Suspends Enforcement of Red Light Cameras

Court ruling in eastern Missouri comes down against cameras, saying tickets go to the owner of a vehicle that runs a red light and not the driver.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph city leaders have suspended enforcement of red light camera violations.

An appeals court in St. Louis has said red light camera laws are not enforceable.

While legal discussions continue and an appeal of that decision will likely go before the Missouri Supreme Court. For now, drivers in St. Joseph will only have to worry about getting a ticket the old-fashioned way.

Reaction to the news from drivers in St. Joseph was fast and positive.

"I was happy," said one driver getting gas at an area convenience store."

"I thought it was smart," said another.

One man said it might even soothe some family tension.

"My daughter's boyfriend was driving her car and I ended up with a ticket because the car is in my name," he said.

St. Joseph's red light cameras will be unplugged.

"The temporary suspension started today for violations happening today or later," said Commander Janice Rothganger of the St. Joseph Police Department.

That decision comes after a judge's red light camera ruling keyed in on one specific problem.

"You're giving these tickets to people whether or not they were actually driving their cars and whether or not a human being actually saw them," said Michael Williams, an attorney in Kansas City.

Kansas City, like St. Joseph, uses the red light cameras to catch violators. Williams says the cameras were originally installed for safety reasons, to monitor intersections with higher than average accident rates.

However, Williams adds cities quickly found the fines to be good revenue streams, and that's where he says the courts had a problem.

"You are issuing these tickets without having a police officer there, without having anyone there to maintain the cameras, and they can run 24 hours a day," he said. "You're issuing $100, $200 tickets without putting out any manpower."

Commander Rothganger says they will work to get the cameras shut off.

"As drivers go through the intersections of Belt and Cook or Belt and Frederick, they may still see the flash from those cameras if there is a violation," said Rothganger. "We are working with the vendor, American Traffic Solutions, to see what we can do as far as suspending or deactivating those cameras."

However, for those who were caught on camera running a red light before Thursday's suspension, they are still responsible for their ticket.

Rothganger says there is no timeline yet for getting the cameras shut off. The company that owns the cameras have the units in several cities throughout Missouri.

The City of St. Joseph had budgeted $450,000 in revenue this year from the red light camera fines.

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