St. Ann, MO a city in northwest St. Louis County, is now the first municipality in the state to use cameras to enforce speed limits. There is only one ticket camera in the city, placed in a school zone to enforce reduced speed laws during school zone hours. The camera went into operation in February, and according to the City’s website, the warning period is now over and real tickets are being issued. You can even pay your ticket online.
State Representative Michael Corcoran, who is from St. Ann, has recently proposed a House bill that would permit speed enforcement technology in cities, but only in “school zone, construction zone, or work zone” areas. Read the full bill. The proposed legislation appears to be a backwards way of giving legitimacy to automated traffic enforcement systems.
There is no state law specifically prohibiting or allowing technology like red light cameras or speed cameras. However, several cities across the state have enacted municipal ordinances allowing the use of red light cameras. Apparently there is some fear that without a state law allowing such technology, those local ordinances may come under attack. See this article from the Columbia Missourian.
Red light cameras in Springfield, MO were taken down earlier this month after a Missouri Supreme Court ruling striking down how the tickets were administered by the city. It is not clear what kind of adjudication process is used in St. Ann, but according to the Missourian, there is a fear that the use of cameras in general is beginning to become under attack.
Camera enforcement systems rub people the wrong way. The big brother aspect alone is enough to make most scoff, but in my opinion the really irksome aspect of these systems is that the city ticketing you gets an easy out when trying to prove you broke the law.
Most traffic violations are cited by real police officers hired and trained to protect the public safety. The thought of a zombie camera, snapping away license plate numbers, resulting in a fine of $100 without proving much of anything, bothers me. Cities, like St. Ann, make it easy to pay and even try to lighten the insult by characterizing the tickets as parking ticket-like with no accompaning points on your license. In exchange for that characteristic, the cities think they don’t have to prove those ticketed broke the law. I say that if you are accused of breaking what has always been treated as a criminal offense (speeding or running a red light), the entity ticketing you should have to prove it as though a police officer ticketed you − with evidence.