These cities arrest drivers for unpaid red-light camera tickets: Creve Coeur, Florissant, Hazelwood, St. Ann, St. Peters, and Wentzville.
Arnold, Bel-Nor, Brentwood, Clayton, Hillsdale, Pine Lawn, and St. Louis City currently do not issue warrants for failure to pay red-light camera tickets.
What is a Red-Light Camera Ticket?
Red-light camera tickets are issued against vehicles that are caught on camera running a red light. The ticket is not personally issued to the driver by a police officer. Instead, it is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. Therefore, if you loan your car to someone and they receive a red-light camera ticket while driving your car, the ticket will be mailed to you (the registered owner of the vehicle), and it will be your responsibility to pay the fine or risk having a warrant for your arrest issued.
Many red-light cameras only capture a photo of the vehicle’s license plate, while other cameras photograph both the license plate and the driver’s face.
Red-Light Camera Tickets Are Non-Moving, No-Point Violations in Missouri
A red-light camera ticket is a non-moving violation, which means no points will be added to your Missouri driving record. Fines for red-light camera tickets in the St. Louis area are different in each court and can range from $100 to $125.
Speed Camera Tickets Are Similar to Red-Light Camera Tickets
Speed camera tickets are non-moving, no-point infractions, similar to red-light camera tickets. The tickets are mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle, rather than being issued in person by a police officer.
Cool Valley & St.Ann have speed cameras and they do issue warrants for unpaid speed camera ticket fines. Bel-Ridge, Hillsdale and Pine Lawn currently do not issue arrest warrants if you don’t pay a speed camera fine.
Click here to read my previous blog post about speed cameras in St. Louis.
Courts Can Issue a Warrant if You Fail to Pay a Red-Light Camera Fine
Courts have the power to issue arrest warrants against defendants who fail to appear in court on their court date or who fail to pay their fines. This applies to any defendant accused of any offense, not just red-light camera violations.
What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your Red-Light Camera Ticket Fine?
If you fail to pay your red-light camera ticket fine, the court will send a letter reminding you to pay. If you don’t pay the fine after receiving the first letter, the court will send a second letter (called a “summons”) telling you to appear in court. If you don’t appear in court in response to the summons, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
In addition to being charged with running a red light, you may also be charged with Failure to Appear (FTA) if you don’t pay the fine or appear in court. The court will assess additional fees for the FTA charge and also a separate warrant fee if the court issues a warrant.
Which Courts Issue Warrants for Red-Light Camera Tickets in St. Louis?
Creve Coeur, Florissant, Hazelwood, St. Peters, St. Ann, and Wentzville issue arrest warrants for drivers who don’t pay their red-light camera ticket fines.
Which Courts Don’t Issue Warrants for Red-Light Camera Tickets in St. Louis?
Arnold, Bel-Nor, Brentwood, Clayton, Hillsdale, Pine Lawn, and St. Louis City have red-light cameras but they currently do not issue warrants if drivers fail to pay their fines. (Keep in mind that these courts’ policies regarding red-light camera tickets can change at any time.)
St. Louis City sends unpaid tickets to a debt collection law firm. Other courts may soon do the same.
Why Do Some Courts Not Issue Warrants for Red-Light Camera Tickets?
Not all cities that have red-light cameras issue warrants when drivers fail to pay their fines. One reason for this may be because of potential due process issues that may arise if the court arrests the registered owner of a vehicle without proof that the owner was the person driving the vehicle when the red-light violation occurred.
If the red-light camera captures a photo of the license plate but no photo of the actual driver, then there is no proof that the registered owner of the vehicle was driving the vehicle at the time of the violation.
The red-light cameras used in Wentzville, MO and St. Peters, MO take photos of both the driver’s face and the vehicle’s license plate. This makes it easier for the registered owner of the vehicle to fight the ticket in court if he was not the person driving the car at the time of the violation.
Do Courts Really Arrest People for Unpaid Red-Light Camera Tickets?
Yes, courts in the St. Louis area do arrest people for not paying their red-light camera tickets.
St. Peters police recently arrested a St. Charles County councilman for an unpaid red-light camera ticket that he received last summer. St. Peters sent the councilman two notices in the mail, and then issued a warrant for his arrest. The councilman claims he mailed his payment to the court before receiving the second notice, but the court had no record of his payment, so it issued a warrant for the councilman’s arrest and St. Peters police arrested him.
Click here to read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article about St. Peters arresting drivers for unpaid red-light camera ticket fines.
How to Fight a Red-Light Camera Ticket
If you receive a red-light camera ticket and you want to fight it in court, either call the phone number on the ticket or call the court clerk and ask for a court date. You will have to appear in court for arraignment and plead not guilty, and then the judge will set a trial date for your case.
At the trial of a red-light camera ticket, you should expect a representative of the company that administers the red-light cameras to testify in court. Also testifying in court will be the police officer who reviewed the video showing your vehicle going through the intersection. (Red-light camera tickets are reviewed by a police officer before being mailed to defendants.)
In St. Louis City Municipal Court, there is a separate docket for red-light camera ticket defendants. You will have to appear in court on your court date, at which time the judge will watch the video showing your vehicle going through the intersection, and the judge will decide whether or not to dismiss your ticket.