Courts put a red light on red-light cameras again

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's been another delay in the effort by Kansas City, Missouri to start issuing red-light camera tickets again. A new court ruling from the Western Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday morning forced city council members to delay a scheduled Tuesday afternoon vote.

The vote would have been heard on a new ordinance passed by the city's Public Safety Committee just the day before. Red-light cameras are still collecting photos of violators, but police won't be issuing tickets anytime soon.

The rewritten ordinance endorsed by committee council members on Monday put the liability for red-light camera tickets on the driver instead of the vehicle owner. Council members were told that change would satisfy a court ruling out of Eastern Missouri.

The full city council was expected to approve the new ordinance with a vote Tuesday, allowing it to take effect in 10 days. But the latest ruling from Western Missouri says the Kansas City ordinance conflicts with state law because the Kansas City ordinance doesn't label red-light camera tickets a "moving violation."

"We clearly disagree with that opinion," said councilman John Sharp. Councilman Sharp said it's frustrating that the city can't find consistent guidance from the courts.

"We may be able to find a way to comply with both these rulings, but I think clearly this is something the Missouri Supreme Court has to settle," he said.

In the meantime it's not clear if the company that operates the city's 29 cameras will keep getting paid while the program is in legal limbo.

"We'll work something out, I don't want to penalize the city," said Jason Norton, the Vice President for American Traffic Solutions. ATS is supposed to be paid $4,500 a month per camera, regardless of how many violators it catches.

Red light runner Becky Shuckhart told FOX 4 she won't be paying her ticket because, guilty or not, she's not convinced any ordinance Kansas City writes is constitutional.

"'Till they get all their laws straight, I guess I'm just going to fight it some," she said.

A city spokesman told FOX 4 the city attorney needs time to digest the latest ruling, but also said the city is hoping to craft a new red-light ordinance that can be presented to council members next month.

In the meantime, cameras will keep snapping photos, but it's not clear if current violators will ever be held accountable.

email: rob.low@wdaftv4.com
twitter: @RobLowTV

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