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Hearing Tuesday Looks at St. Louis City Red Light Cameras

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Red light camera warning sign, downtown St. Louis

Red light camera warning sign, downtown St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Lawyers for and against red light cameras will argue Tuesday before Circuit Court Judge Mark Neill.

The hearing will focus on whether the city acted legally when it set up its web of red light cameras and started collecting $100 fines without permission from the state.

“They have to have special enabling legislation to allow the municipality, or give the municipality the authority, to pass such legislation,” said plaintiff’s attorney Russell Watters.

Attorneys for the city will argue that St. Louis, as a charter city, has the authority to regulate the flow of traffic and set up a red light camera system that “saves lives.”

Watters disputes the claim that red light cameras are motivated by an interest in public safety.  He says it’s all about a cash-strapped city collecting $2 million a year in fines.

“To be honest, I think its about 80 percent of the motivation of the city,” Watters said, “All this talk about safety is a secondary motivation in my opinion.”

City Public Safety Director Charles Bryson wrote a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch last week, arguing that red light cameras do save lives and have led to an 80-percent reduction in violations at the intersections where they are posted.

Bryson noted that a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that two-thirds of those injured or killed in red-light running collisions were not the red-light runner.  Bryson argues that red-light also help police identify drivers who commit other crimes.

Copyright KMOX

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