Missouri bills would change ticket camera rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In the first few days of the legislative year at the Missouri statehouse multiple lawmakers have introduced bills to discourage, or outright prohibit, the use of cameras to issue tickets.

The devices, which are used in more than two dozen Missouri towns, snap pictures of red-light runners’ or speeders’ vehicles. A ticket is mailed to the owner of the vehicle, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Out of concern that the cameras are unconstitutional, Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Mehlville, has introduced a bill in four consecutive sessions to prohibit local governments from using photo systems at intersections to ticket drivers.

On each occasion Lembke’s bills have failed to advance from committee. Hopeful that this year is different, SB610 is awaiting assignment to committee.

Supporters of the equipment say it acts as a deterrent and helps snare red-light-running drivers who otherwise might not get caught.

Opponents, including OOIDA, say the cameras simply are an easy way for communities to rake in money at a time when budgets are stretched thin. They say if politicians in Missouri and elsewhere are truly concerned about safety they should make a point of extending yellow times or providing advance warning signs.

A separate effort from Lembke pursues such changes. SB611 would require the Missouri Department of Transportation to establish minimum yellow light change intervals for traffic-control devices.

If approved, yellow intervals must be established in accordance with nationally recognized engineering standards.

Another Senate bill is intended to discourage communities from using red-light or speed cameras as a “money grab.” Sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, SB589 would require cities using the technology to route all fines collected to the local school district. Typically, the revenue is put into the general fund.

Officials in Kansas City say the change would no longer make the city’s 18 camera locations viable. According to a fiscal note, the state’s largest city would lose out on $4 million a year in camera revenue.

Lawmakers can consider the bills during the session that runs from Jan. 4 to May 30. OOIDA encourages Missouri truckers to contact their lawmakers about the ticket camera issue.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the story topic. Comments may be sent to mailto:state_legislative_editor@ooida.com.

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