By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Kansas City's red traffic lights won't be sending out tickets in the near future after a Missouri Court of Appeals ruling on Tuesday.
That means any tickets given out Wednesday are pending.
Red light tickets have been a pain in the wallet for Kansas City drivers for years.
One of the key arguments against the cameras is that police don't know who's driving the car their traffic light cameras are taking pictures of. The only thing the cameras do is get a vehicle's license plate number.
Red light cameras along Bruce R. Watkins Drive have been a fixture, but their legality is now in question.
On Tuesday the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that red light cameras in the eastern Missouri town of Ellisville violate state law. The court ruled that punishing the vehicle's owner instead of the driver goes against state law.
"It's a decision that I know Missourians across the state have been waiting for," said Ryan Keane with Simon Law Firm.
Keane tried the Ellisville case.
"It's holding the feet of American Traffic Solutions and municipalities like Ellisville to the fire, making them responsible for having camera programs that are not abusive and that are in compliance with state law," he said.
The ruling prompted Kansas City's Municipal Court to shut off the cameras until the Ellisville case is resolved. This means the camera may still flash and get a vehicle's tag for running a red light, but nothing will be mailed out until the case is resolved.
"We want to be fair to everyone, we don't want individuals to pay for tickets potentially that may be struck down later," said Ardie Bland, the presiding judge at the Kansas City Municipal Court.
Still, some drivers welcome the cameras.
"You know I think they're good, I mean to keep everyone safe and to follow the law, so I don't think they should be illegal," said driver Danny Hainje.
It leaves many asking how long the cameras in Kansas City and other areas in Missouri might still be legal - a question the municipal court is now looking at after the Ellisville ruling.
"It's typically what happens when ever there is new legislation," Bland said.
Red light fines can run about $200. Nearly 191,000 tickets have been issued since the cameras went online in 2009.
The city makes about $2 million a year from the program and says no decision has been made on the future of them.
In May of this year, the city signed a five-year extension with the vender, American Traffic Solutions, who was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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