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Judge throws out St. Louis' red light camera law

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(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
Red light cameras in Hazelwood. A judge in St. Louis city today threw out the city's law allowing the cameras because it conflicts with state statutes.

Have you gotten a ticket from one of 51 red light cameras in the city of St. Louis?

If a new court ruling stands, you might not have to pay the $100 fine.

The lawsuit filed in December by attorney Russell Watters challenged the city's red light camera ordinance on constitutional and statutory grounds. Though today's preliminary ruling from Circuit judge Mark Neill extensively discussed the constitutional issues, he ultimately ruled the statute violates Missouri law.

Why?

State law sets the rules of the road, including that you have to stop at a red light before proceeding. In state statutes, running a red light is a misdemeanor moving violation that leads to points on a license.

The red light camera ordinance in the city - and most other municipalities - moves the offense to municipal courts and levels a fine.

The lawsuit argued - and Judge Neill agreed - that state law preempts local law unless otherwise specified. Because the state hasn't authorized the use of red light cameras, they aren't allowed in any municipality, including St. Louis. It is believed to be the first that challenged red light laws on statutory grounds. Federal courts have upheld their constitutionality.

No word yet on whether the city intends to appeal the ruling.

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