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Paying red-light camera fines in Arnold optional

ARNOLD, Mo. (AP) — Drivers who are caught on camera running a red light in Arnold will continue to receive tickets, but those who show up for court or ignore the tickets altogether will not be forced to pay a fine, the City Council voted earlier this week.

Thursday's unanimous vote Thursday not to pursue tickets from red-light cameras comes after the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District ruled in December that Arnold's camera law is unconstitutional and runs counter to state law, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/LIknOP ) reported.

Several Missouri communities stopped issuing citations late last year until legal issues are clarified. The appeals court ruling ran counter to even its own opinion in 2011 that citations could be issued to car owners for red-light violations even if they weren't the ones driving.

"We're all hoping the (Missouri) Supreme Court takes this," Arnold City Administrator Bryan Richison said. He echoed what many others have said — that clarification is needed after a patchwork of rulings and differing city laws.

Arnold, south of St. Louis, in 2005 became the first town in Missouri to install the cameras, and a federal lawsuit challenging them was dismissed in 2009. Violators receive tickets costing $94.50, though the offense does not result in points against their driver's license.

American Traffic Solutions, an Arizona company that runs the cameras, receives about one-third of the fine paid for each ticket.

"We're under contract with ATS, and the contract says we have an obligation to issue tickets," Richison said.

That contract is up for renewal in June.

Those who get a ticket and show up for their court date will get the ticket dismissed, Richison said. No warrants will be issued to those who ignore the tickets, he said, but anyone who pays the fine won't get their money back.

Matt Hay, a red-light camera opponent who created the website WrongOnRed.com, noted that Kansas City — which also has a contract with ATS — stopped issuing red-light camera tickets until the legality of the cameras is determined.

"It makes me wonder why Arnold decides to take a different tact," said Hay, a former Arnold City Council member. "It basically to me seems like a money grab to keep the dollars flowing."

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