Legal landscape murky on red-light cameras

WASHINGTON – The use of red-light cameras is expanding in the Washington area and throughout the country, along with a growing debate about the legal status of the devices.

Supporters say the cameras help save lives by cutting down on accidents. Critics say local governments are using them to rake in money.

USA Today reports that the legal landscape covering the cameras is getting increasingly complicated.

The newspaper points to several recent developments:

  • A Florida judge ruled the state’s camera law is unconstitutional.
  • The Washington state Supreme Court ruled that local voters can’t ban red-light cameras by ballot initiative.
  • In Missouri, there were two conflicting rulings. After a circuit judge in St. Louis ruled cameras were invalid because they had not been sanctioned by state lawmakers, another St. Louis circuit judge ruled the oppose way a month later.

Meanwhile, the cameras keep going up in the Washington area.

As WTOP recently reported, Alexandria police say nearly 9,400 tickets have been issued in connection with red-light cameras since August. At $50 a ticket, that amounts to $234,000 in fines.

A survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers in D.C. overwhelmingly support the use of red-light cameras — 78 percent back them. That was the highest percentage of the 14 cities where people were polled.

WTOP’s Mitchell Miller contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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