Appeals court refuses to give Photo Cop program a green light
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) A court ruling that brought Minneapolis' Photo Cop to a screeching halt withstood appeal Friday.
The state Court of Appeals agreed with a Hennepin County district judge who found flaws with the city's use of cameras to catch and ticket owners of cars caught speeding through red lights - even if the owners weren't driving.
Reiterating many of the same points as the lower court judge, the appeals court concluded that the city's program wasn't allowed under state laws.
State law makes drivers responsible for violations, and Wernick ruled Minneapolis didn't have the authority to pass an ordinance that went beyond state traffic law.
More than 26,000 tickets were issued after the cameras were first turned on. Police say the so called "Stop on Red" cameras helped reduce crashes.
The Minneapolis cameras were installed at 12 intersections, and the city warned motorists with signs in the intersections and by posting the locations on its Web site.
A man who had received a ticket by mail challenged the program, arguing it violated his due process rights because no one could prove he was at the wheel.
Writing for the appeals panel, Judge Harriet Lansing seized on that point.
"Under the state statute, an element of the crime is that the defendant was the driver," she wrote. Under the Minneapolis ordinance "in contrast, the defendant must establish that he was not the driver and that someone else was."
As many as 160 other cities use red-light enforcement systems like the one Minneapolis tried. AP-NY-09-22-06 1623EDT