Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Federal Lawsuit Challenges Red Light Cameras In Arnold


Lawyer for Fenton couple says cameras are unconstitutional

The city of Arnold is named in a lawsuit that could set a precedent for the use of red light enforcement cameras in the state. The Meramec Journal has the complete story here.

Attorney Chet Pleban represents James and Kara Hoekstra, of Fenton, in the suit.On Aug. 13, 2007, a ticket was issued to the Hoekstras, accusing each of them for the same offense of running a red light at Astra Way and Route 141 in a 2005Jeep on July 29.

The ticket required that the couple pay $94.50 for the violation and no points would be assessed against either driver's license.

Pleban said the two names on the ticket demonstrate how the red light camera system is flawed.

"All I know is that it's a cash cow for these municipalities," he said.

The Hoekstras asked for a dismissal of their case, which they were not granted until after they hired a lawyer.

According to Pleban, the red light cameras violate a state law requiring that moving violations be reported to the Department of Revenue for points toward license suspension.

A spokesperson from Attorney General Jay Nixon's office said he was aware of the litigation under consideration and could not otherwise weigh in on the subject.

State Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, hopes to have a hand in changing the system.

Roorda filed a bill Wednesday that would regulate conditions of red light camera use. The legislation lists three requirements before tickets can be issued, all of which he said are already met by Arnold.

In order to issue a ticket to alleged traffic light violators, a video of the violation must be viewed by a police officer, the summons must be offered by an officer and the license plates must be easily seen on the vehicle.

"I think that there is a lot of suspicion on the part of the public that these things are profit motivated," Roorda said.

State Rep. Charles R. Portwood, R-Ballwin, sponsored a bill to regulate the use of the red light cameras, but Roorda said that some provisions of the legislation have become somewhat controversial, such as the stipulation requiring that the revenue brought in from red light tickets go toward school districts rather than the cities.

Roorda said he filed his bill simply because he believes it has a better chance of passing than Portwood's.

4 comments:

Jack said...

I'm suing you for NOT screwing me hard enough? That makes no sense at all.

Busplunge said...

I took it to mean that the city is only interested in the revenue generated by the cameras.

Jim A. said...

Chet Pleban's a well known attorney in St. Louis. He often seen as the attorney for the police union. The Hoekstras didn't get him by accident.

Anonymous said...

I love how camera supporters gloss over the constutional arguments and shout from the rooftops, "The cameras SAVE LIVES!"

Well, following that logic, why not make skydiving ILLEGAL? That would save lives.

What about motorcycles? or bicycles? They're too dangerous, so we should keep people safe by OUTLAWING them too!

Heck, walking across the street is dangerous. After all the recent advancements in technology, why are people still allowed to leave their home? We should all live by remote desktop! Then, we would all be SAFE.

I love the idea that the cameras can save lives. That's a noble idea, and one that we should be willing to consider -- within the bounds of the Constitution.

Many states (politicians) have passed legislation that says they can assess fines against the registered OWNER of the vehicle, regardless of who was driving. These fines are CIVIL penalties, as opposed to CRIMINAL acts. By law, moving violations are CRIMINAL. When you are accused of a crime, you have certain rights (under the constitution).

Minnesota's supreme court has finally ruled -- correctly -- that the cameras are unconstitutional. IF our process doesn't fail us, this will eventually be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fight to protect our precius constitution -- even if you like the cameras, don't let politicians create unconstitutional statues at the state and local level. Require them to satisfy and uphold the constitutional in everything they do. Otherwise, our system and our freedoms will die.