AT THE CAPITOL: Revive the red light cameras? - KMSP-TV

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AT THE CAPITOL: Revive the red light cameras?

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Despite a 2007 ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court that declared red light cameras as unconstitutional, lawmakers at the capitol will consider a bill to revive their use this session.

The state's highest court ruled that the camera system went against the constitution because tickets were linked to a license plate and thus the car's owner, not necessarily to the motorist who committed the violation.

In the decision, the high court said, "The Supreme Court found that Minneapolis had disregarded a state law imposing uniformity of traffic laws across the state. The city's photo ticket program offered the accused fewer due process protections than available to motorists prosecuted for the same offense in the conventional way after having been pulled over by a policeman."

Yet, the stoplight camera may soon get a second life now that Rep. Alice Hausman has introduced a bill that would allow cities to decide whether or not they want to use the cameras to catch drivers who run red lights.

The bill would also allow law enforcement officers to use cameras to catch drivers who are speeding.

Supporters of the revival say new technology allows the cameras to take a picture of both the driver's face and the license plate, and they say that should get around constitutionality concerns.

Hausman explained that she believes the legislation could reduce accidents at dangerous intersections, saying, "It is a matter with people thinking they can get away with breaking the law."

A recent study of the impact of red-light cameras found cities with populations of 200,000 or more saw more than double the reduction in fatalities when cameras were installed, a decline of 35 percent compared to the 14 percent decline seen in cities without cameras.

"The problem is: People die when that happens," Hausman continued. "The stakes are high enough for me."

Meanwhile, opponents are already voicing their concerns about the technology.

"This technology is wrong. You need to have somebody hand somebody a ticket," said Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Samuelson said he has major questions about the proposed legislation, including how governments would enforce the law if the owner of a vehicle isn't the person in the photograph.

FOX 9 News spoke with Samuelson and Nancy Johnson, legislative liaison for Minnesotans for Safe Driving, about the push on FOX 9 News @ 9. Watch the video for more information.

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