The Missouri Supreme Court is considering whether to toss out tickets issued as a result of traffic cameras catching drivers speeding or driving through stoplights.
The high court on Tuesday heard arguments in three separate cases challenging traffic-camera ordinances in St. Louis and two cities in St. Charles and St. Louis counties. The cases are relevant in Kansas City and many other Missouri cities that also used cameras to catch people running red lights.
Lower courts have invalidated the local ordinances involved in the lawsuit, in part because they said the ordinances conflicted with state laws governing traffic violations. The cities have appealed.
State legislators considered bills earlier this year that would have set forth a legal framework for traffic enforcement cameras. But the measures failed to pass during the session that ended in May.
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Kansas City’s red-light camera program, which took effect in 2009, has been on hold since November 2013, while officials waited for the Supreme Court to resolve conflicting lower court rulings and to provide clarity on what is legal for them to enforce.
Judges focused their questions on whether it was appropriate to presume the owner of the vehicle was the operator and whether the ordinances should be stricken because they don’t follow a state law requiring points to be assessed against a person’s driver’s license for moving violations.
Chris Hernandez, spokesman for Kansas City municipal government, said Tuesday that the city hopes the Supreme Court ruling, expected later this year, will provide clear guidance on how the city can proceed.
“We are watching and waiting for a ruling, but we won’t know how it affects Kansas City until we see the actual ruling,” Hernandez said. “We as a city believe the red light camera program is legal, and that the cameras help improve public safety by reducing accidents at dangerous intersections.”
The Star’s Lynn Horsley contributed to this report.