Can Missouri Red-Light Camera Tickets Be Thrown Away?

Recent news reports out of St. Louis, Missouri seem to suggest that it’s safe to ignore red-light camera tickets in certain parts of the state.

The Columbia Missourian explains:

“Because most red-light cameras take a picture only of the car — not the driver — it’s difficult for cities here and around the country to make people pay.

Officials acknowledge that, for now, there’s little they can do.

“If you threw it in the trash,” says St. Louis Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr., chairman of the aldermanic Traffic Committee, “nothing would happen.”

In St. Louis, the cameras have raised more than $1.4 million since they were activated nearly a year ago. But many of the fines are going uncollected. In Arnold, about 30 percent of the citations issued from October 2005 through January had not been paid. The nonpayment rate in St. Louis is about 35 percent.

“Right now, we have no active program to go after these people other than request that they comply with the law,” said Timothy W. Kelly, the municipal judge in Florissant.”

The appeal of extra cash for the city budget has prompted quite a few Missouri cities (including Moline Acres, a hamlet less than a square mile in size) to install the cameras despite the fact that they are not sanctioned by the state.

As more people have figured out that the tickets are easily ignored, cities have become more aggressive (and arguably unethical) in their quest to extract money from motorists.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch points to Creve Coeur as an example of this:

“The cameras are not sanctioned by the state, sometimes leaving cities to rely on model ordinances drafted by the for-profit camera companies — who get a slice of each ticket. […]

Creve Coeur does not take pictures of drivers but has been able to maintain close to a 90 percent collection rate on red-light camera fines. Part of its success may have to do with the fine print of the municipal code.

Last year, Creve Coeur established the infraction of “violation of public safety at intersections,” committed when a “motor vehicle of which that person is an owner is present in an intersection” while the traffic signal is red. The law applies only at intersections with cameras. It also allows the city to prosecute individuals for simply not responding to a citation notice. […]

The approach — crafting new laws narrowly tailored to help aid camera enforcement — strikes one expert as dubious.

“It’s what they did to Al Capone,” said St. Louis University law professor Eric J. Miller. “They really wanted Al Capone for racketeering, but they could only prove tax violations. This is worse. Here they are creating a specific crime to punish you because they cannot get you on the first crime.”

So in conclusion, if you receive an unfair red-light camera ticket in Missouri, you may be able to ignore it without consequence. However, due to differences in the local ordinances across the state — like the one in Creve Coeur — this isn’t always a smart option.

At a minimum, always look up the ordinance you’ve been charged under before you decide what to do with your ticket.

Image Credit: LWY

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32 Responses to “Can Missouri Red-Light Camera Tickets Be Thrown Away?”

  1. […] more aggressive (and arguably unethical) in their quest to extract money from motorists,” writes the blog of the National Motorists Association, quoting from the version of the story that ran in the Columbia […]

  2. Mike says:

    Not relly related to this however,Back in the beginning of April 08 there was an article on CNN about Texas red light cameras in some major cities Dallas FtWorth and San Antonio being removed, it wasn't because of citizens complaints (they could give a rats ass about you} it was because (hope your ready for this),They wern't generating enough revenue and rear end accidents were up 3 fold in a 2 year period.The machines didn't even pay for themselves.Public safety isn't really there concern if it was they'd have left them up I bet they've saved a few lines in there time.

  3. Carol says:

    I received a red light ticket from the City of St. Louis. I wasn't driving the car. Actually someone was driving my son home from a bar so he wouldn't have to drive home intoxicated… Do I have to pay the ticket?

  4. DFG says:

    Stop your whining and complaining.

    If you run a red light or sit in an intersection, you deserve the ticket. I am tired of a lot of the drivers in this state and their total disregard for traffic signals. As an older motorcycle driver you vehicle drivers scale the hell out of me.

    Myself I think people are getting off easy. You wanna complain it's unethical or against the Constitution, Great! Then let the City's raise your tax's to put more officers at the intersections. Yeah, didn't think you would go for that one.

    The solution is easy, stop running red lights. It's no ones fault but your own. There wasn't some one stepping on the gas pedal but you. You as a driver have a legal responsibility or have you forgotten that part.

    • Babs says:

      "The solution is easy, stop running red lights. It’s no ones fault but your own. There wasn’t some one stepping on the gas pedal but you."

      DFG, that's the precisely the point on which this tactic is being debated. It actually may NOT be you behind the wheel. If that same car were to run over a pedestrian, should the owner of the car go to jail simply because it was his/her car? The answer is no, not if he/she wasn't in fact the person driving. Our courts are convicting people sight unseen — how can that possibly be right?

      I don't care how minor the offense, believe me, you don't want to give your government the power to convict someone — anyone — of a crime just for the sake of having a conviction. We must hold them to higher standards of proof. It protects all of us and our freedoms in the long run.

  5. Jerry says:

    Do not pay the tickets. If everyone stopped paying these bloodsuckers….the cameras would cost too much to maintain and they would go away. For those brave ones…egg the lens or accidentally back into the camera pole and jolt that sucker…then they gotta come out and fix it….that equals money.

  6. joest.louis says:

    To those who say "suck it up!" Get a clue, ya' communists. This is totally illegal. It has been ruled time and again that a video or picture – alone – is not evidence enough in a court of law to prove you guilty. This is Big Brother at its finest, and NO ONE should pay these. In the city of St. Louis, there is (as far as I still understand) no way for them to go after you if you do not pay the citation. Remind these fools who they work for, US! Write to your mayor, congressmen, senators, etc. and let them know you will not stand for some out of state private company getting in bed with you local gov't, just to rake in HUGE bucks. This is a scam. Don't stand for it.

  7. Sheila says:

    Many people push it on a yellow light at many intersections.It is not illegal to be in the intersection on a yellow. If people knew this, perhaps the rear-enders would cease. I think there should be a first-time warning if you are caught on a Red-Light Camera. Guarenteed most would learn their lesson and not do it again. The ones who risk everyone's lives by running red lights repeatedly should be chased.

  8. PB says:

    Does anyone know if Board Bill 511, proposed by Freeman Bosley Sr. has been voted on? It would make it a violation for not responding to a citation from the red light cameras.

  9. Sarah says:

    I looked up the board bill and it has not been voted on.

    Since it was introduced, a bill to get rid of the cameras has also been introduced. Neither bill has been voted on.

    I just received my second notice for not paying the ticket. It says, "Failure to respond may result in further legal action by the City of St. Louis." I can't find anything indicating what this further action might be.

    I'm ignoring it, especially since my ticket had incorrect information on it, and the website wouldn't load my video. They can't arrest me or do anything to my vehicle. What recourse do they have?

  10. Chris says:

    So i just received a ticket in the mail from Creve Coeur. I ran the light at olive and 270. i was heading east bound and wanting to go north on 270 at 5 pm. IF anyone has been at this intersection you know that its a pain in the @$$ to get on the highway as no one getting off the highway stops and you can sit through 4-5 lights being the first car in line before someone leave a gap for you to fit through and get on your way. If im ready this correctly is Creve Coeur the only place that will prosecute me or can i just pitch this like everyone else

  11. PB says:

    Thanks for the info Sarah. I hope they vote to remove the cameras as they are blatantly unconstitutional.

    And please let us know how if they take any action against you. We are with you!

  12. Jeff says:

    Why don't you put a license plate cover over your license plate or put dirt on the plate? That will make it unreadable to any camera.

  13. Brian says:

    I ran a red light in hannible missouri tonight, what will happen legally if anything. if i don't pay the ticket?

  14. Steve says:

    I just recieved a ticket from the city of Creve Coeure for a light violation.The camera shows that the traffic light is mounted on the oppisite side of the intersection away from the stop line and at about a 45 degree angle.You have to look to thru the intersection and directly to the left(and they have shrubs and concrete structures blocking the view until you are right at the intersection)to see the traffic light and by then(once you have searched out the applicable light) you are in the intersection(illegally) on a red light and the camera is there to capture you realizing where you are and hitting your brakes but past the stop line.There also was a light directly across the intersection that was green and I still have no idea what that was for if not applicable to the lanes that I was in. I recall thinking as I went thru the intersection that this arrangement for the light was really stupid and dangerous.

  15. Steve says:

    (Addendum)Please also be aware that it is the responsibility of police and other city employees to report dangers such as this and visual obstructions.Engineers and courts also are supposed to make modifications due to accidents and citations(surveys).I believe that if the city needed to pass its own ordinance to collect its revenue then they know there is a problem at their traffic lights as well.Please read the mutcd

  16. Steve says:

    (Addendum)If traffic safety were the priority then the lights obviously would have been re-installed so as to be unobstructed,(optimum visibility)straight line of sight and easier to comprehend(before being IN the intersection),near as practical to stop line. Thanks Government, for the farce that is your existance $$$$. By the way,I am EX-LAW ENFORCEMENT(by choice) AND I KNOW OF WHAT I SPEAK.

  17. Steve says:

    (Addendum)Also, I am 42 years old with a class A cdl.I have a spotless driving record except for the Creve Coeur incident.Which will not be taken lying down.Its things like this that the institutions take part in, that really do need to CHANGE.I belive that their mentality is not "what can we do for you" but "what can we do TO YOU" and get away with, until you rise up.Anyone else tired of it?Write back

  18. Randy says:

    Steve, I see all your complaining but who have you taken this to? Have you told the police? Have you taken it to the city or the township that is responsible? Complaining to the wrong people pretty much does nothing. I had a ticket dozens of years ago at a bad intersection design and I went to court with pictures. The judge reduced the ticket to $3 and court costs even though I thought it should have been no ticket.

  19. Steve says:

    Hello Randy.I see your still feeling bitter about the court cost and fine EVEN THOUGH you took it to court.However,yes I will be going to court with the pictures.That is what was implied by "not taking it lying down."It is just rediculous though that the intersection is of bad design and yet it is said to be in the name of public-safety that people are (still) being cited in the intersection without making any alterations to it.It must be a real money maker though.

  20. Randy says:

    Steve I am not bitter. I accepted it. I had my day in court. To really show someone something like what I had you really had to have them there at night to see it and that usually does not happen in traffic court.

    It still does not do any good in court though if as you say there is a dangerous intersection like you say there is. If you are not able to see a stop light very well you should as I say take it to the city or township to get it corrected. Police or courts do not make such changes but I suppose they can make recommendations.

  21. Jeff says:

    Randy broke the law and goes to court to fight the ticket, but he criticizes other people who get speeding tickets.

  22. Steve says:

    Hello Chris.Sorry to hear of your ticket in Creve Coeur.I think that you got your ticket at the same intersection that I got mine.However, I was getting off the highway.The reason that you had to wait at that light so long is due to the poor design of the intersection.People getting off the highway can be confused as to WHERE to stop for the light and wich light actually correctly applies.They cross in front of where you were stopped(on their yellow) and stop at the light on red(blocking the intersection,but stopped-uh oh).They are ticketed for stopping there.That is where and how I got mine.The light needs to be at the beginning of the intersection and not on the other side and down the street a ways.Sound correct?It is terrible there.

  23. Steve says:

    Chris are you ready to fight that ticket or did you do what they are hoping that you will do and just pay it?It is funny though that the ticket explicitly states that no points will be assessed against you.Oh how curtious,considering they just take a cut from the cameras owners and do absolutely nothing(especially to correct the light situation).Could be a gold mine.

  24. JOE says:

    While it's a rare event I must agree with Randy on this one…at least partially. Complaining on the web will not do anything to correct the situation. Randy is right. The courts do not give a damn. It is not their job to care. But I believe there should be feedback if a large number of drivers are getting cited in a certain area, it should be investigated automatically. Here again it needs to be written into law. Sometimes it takes a amazingly few interested citizens to change something like this. Write some state congressmen. Send out some "feelers" to see who might be interested in pursuing this. This would be a great class project for a political science or law school to pursue since a congressmen would be more conducive to introducing such a measure if it was already written in legal lingo.
    Your big opposition will come from municipal organizations. Anything that creates more work for them, even though it's justified, they will oppose. Don't let that hang you up. It's worth a try. First though, make sure it's already not a law. They may not be following it. This may not save you on this one but it'll save many in the long run.
    As a society we are entirely to complacent in the workings of government. A great read on the subject has just came out called "Just How Stupid Are We?" by Rick Shenkman. Basic Traffic Control issues of any dimension often have political overtones. Effectively dealing with these issues requires a working knowledge of politics. His book is so revealing on why the American people seem so disinterested in politics. You can get the just of the book reading several Internet articles if you don't want to buy the book.

  25. Mary says:

    If someone else driving my car commits a
    red light violation, does it go on my record?

  26. Joe Wolf KCPD retire says:

    Put these camera in neighborhoods that have nightly drive-by shootings and attempt to get their I.D. instead of John and Jane Doe worker trying to make a living and driving to work and back everyday. They don't need the additional burden of more to worry about as 'Big Brother' watches there every movement.

    The money for cameras, maintenence, additional Officers, judges, prosecutors, and clerical personnel can be better spent catching gang bangers that kill innocent bystanders in their own neighborhoods where the victims refuse to assist the police in identifiying who is killing their own children, and only have superficial vigils with candle lighting ceremonies and phony leaders with their own agendas promoting hate and racial devision by blaming the working stiff for not sharing what they earn with them.

    We should have ACORN pay for the cameras in the 'HOOD' instead of buying votes for their rich leaders and parasitic lawyers.

  27. igspstl says:

    I just sent Creve Coeur City Administrator Mr. Mark Perkins ( the following email:


    Dear Mr. Perkins,

    I just got a "Red Light" ticket in the mail from the City of Creve Coeur in the amount of $100.

    Since according to your new ordinance I can't refuse to pay, I have decided not to spend a dime of my money in the various establishments (gas stations, restaurants, stores, etc.) located within your city until you will lose at least $200 in tax revenue from me. I also will ask other people (trough the power of internet) to respond to your tickets in the same way.

    Hopefully it will help you to better understand my feelings in regards to this ordinance.



    I think it is the best way to "vote" against this ordinance: with my $$$

  28. Numbski says:

    Hazelwood just dinged me. There are a pair of camera intersections I'm forced to go through in order to get to work – Missouri Bottom and Lindbergh, as well as J. S. McDonnell and Lindbergh.

    Well, I got a citation today for 11 days ago that states I ran I red light. It has two pictures on it, one of me stopped at a red light, and another of me having made a right turn at said light. My jaw dropped at the stupidity, then I read the back that states this, in bold text where all other text is plain:

    "If you were making a right hand turn at the time of the incident, videotape shows that you failed to come to a COMPLETE STOP before making the turn as required by Ordinance 315.095."

    This is a gross abuse of the average driver's understanding of how to drive. In the pictures I have here, no one was in the intersection coming from any direction, my vehicle's brake lights were active, and from all indications, a very safe right hand turn was completed.

    The citation directs you to the e-commerce site to view images and video. The video is however broken, because it requires Windows Media Player, AND provides the wrong content-type information, leaving me with no recourse but to visit Hazelwood City Hall to view the video.

    Oh, one more thing. The bottom of that same notice states:

    "This violation is a non-moving infraction and no points will be assessed."


    So let me get this straight. I stop (but apparently not completely), then make a right turn on red. My vehicle is MOVING. But it's not a moving violation? Right….that would be so that you can duck the rules involved in charging someone with a moving violation.

    Your money machine at work. Citation is for $100. So I'm going to give them $100 and then some of pure torment for taking the time to hack me off. They've custom-written a law to make them money, which is BS. I contacted Hazelwood police about this EXACT intersection because I wind up having to run the light on a left turn on my motorcycle because the light never changes. It's insane, and it's stupid.

    I haven't decided how many different types of grief I feel like causing the city of Hazelwood, but make no mistake – they've now gotten my ire and I'm not going to stop until those cameras are gone or irrepairably disabled, by hook or by crook.

    • Numbski says:

      Perhaps we need to remind our local government of how the English locals deal with this camera enforcement stupidity?

      If law enforcement suddenly had to worry about arson of these cameras, perhaps they'd re-think the issue? Causing violence by trying to generate revenue? Maybe that's what it takes to FINALLY get their attention.

      I'm not the violent type, I wouldn't personally do this, but sometimes I wonder if that's what it takes to get things changed. :(

    • Kaustubh Thapa says:

      I happen to make right on a Sunday, with cars miles away. I did not come to COMPLETE STOP but reduced down to 12 mph before making my right on the dead street. Couple weeks later, I get a notice. Phew! As a student in Fulton, 2 hours from St. Louis, I have to sacrifice a whole day to go to the Courthouse, and the court time conflicts with my studies. Failure to show up means $75 more. It's just plane BS , its not a red light violation, and given the fact that street was more empty than a desert. I think the woman "officer" who issued me the ticket do not have a pinch of common sense in her, or she is just a machine refrain from humane judgement. There goes a big chunk of monthly income for a student.

  29. thedoo says:

    I know nothing can be done about the creve-coeur photo enforced stop lights. I tried to do it through legitimate means, such as is there anything legislatively or it getting signatures I could do and there's nothing. I suggest paint ball guns be used at the cameras. If you get caught it will be a cheap remedy. or I suggest go go to court I know creve-coeur doesn't have an additional court cost. And express your displeasure to the judge and who ever is listening! many go to court and act meek. You must treat the prosecutor and judge with respect. Don't be afraid to tell them what's on your mind. If enough people would do this it would be changed! but no we act like sheep like lemmings and shiny metal boxes, Police song!