Now that the future of red-light cameras in Missouri is up in the air, the Kansas City Council is making some changes to its municipal red-light ordinance.
The council's Public Safety Committee on Monday decided to change the current ordinance in an effort to resume ticketing red-light runners. The full council will consider the measure on Tuesday, which would then take effect 10 days later. The measure appears to have the votes for passage.
Currently, the city issues tickets to the owner of the vehicle that is caught running a red light. No points on a driver's record were issued for violations since the city wasn't trying to prove that the owner was behind the wheel at the time.
A Missouri appeals court ruled that unconstitutional and it's now pending before the Missouri Supreme Court.
In an effort to get judicial OK, the council now plans to send a ticket to the vehicle's owner. If the owner can prove that he or she wasn't driving, then the ticket would be reissued to the driver of the vehicle.
Many cities ticket the owner of a vehicle caught running a red light, regardless of who was driving, and do not report the infraction to the state to have points assessed.
Backers of the red-light cameras in Kansas City say accidents at intersections with the cameras are down 30 percent.
Kansas City said about 3,000 tickets are in limbo now because of the appeals court ruling. You can pay the ticket or you can wait to see what the Missouri Supreme Court rules. If you pay and the Supreme Court throws the law out, you won't get your money back. If you don't pay and the Supreme Court rules the ordinance constitutional, then you would need to pay at that time.
"If they want to wait and see, we're not going to force them to pay," said City Prosecutor Lowell Garde. "We're going to wait and see what the Supreme Court does. If those are valid tickets, then they'll get notices in the mail. If the Supreme Court invalidates those tickets, then they don't have to pay them."
Gard said the city will find a compromise to keep the red-light cameras in place, and the city is looking to expand the number of cameras in the city.
"Red lights are here to stay. I think we'll find one ordinance, one set of laws that will keep those in place," he said.
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