CHARLACK, Mo. — The first city in Missouri to install a camera to ticket speeding drivers has put the plan on hold amid pending legislation that could affect the program.
A camera was scheduled to begin catching drivers this week along a stretch of northbound Interstate 170 that runs through Charlack, a St. Louis suburb. Tickets were to start after a two-week period of mailed warnings.
But Charlack Police Chief Tony Umbertino said he doesn't want to start the program if his department might have to stop it. Lawmakers are considering bills that would limit use of the cameras or ban them altogether.
"It doesn't mean we're not going to have the program, it just means we're postponing it to monitor the bills in Jefferson City closely," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
State Rep. Mike Corcoran, D-St. Ann, said his bill to limit speed cameras to school, work and construction zones has bipartisan support. Sen. Tim Green, D-Spanish Lake, has tried to add provisions to bills to limit Charlack's ability to use a speed camera.
Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, said photographing a vehicle's license plate — but not the driver — raise constitutional questions. He has introduced two bills, one that would ban the use of cameras to enforce traffic laws and another requiring that cameras photograph drivers and the resulting tickets count as moving violations.
So far, legislative attempts to regulate speed and red light cameras haven't gained much traction.
If this year's bills go nowhere by the time the legislative session ends May 15, Charlack's cameras will "be in full swing," Umbertino said.
Critics have said the fines are about revenue not safety, but Umbertino said that's not the case. He said he plans to refund some fines to violators who attend a city-run traffic school.
The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.