Which Cities Arrest Drivers for Red-Light Camera Tickets?

Creve Coeur, Florissant, Hazelwood, St. Ann, St. Peters, and Wentzville are cities in the St. Louis area that issue arrest warrants against drivers who fail to pay their red-light camera ticket fines. 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.

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21 Responses to Which Cities Arrest Drivers for Red-Light Camera Tickets?

  1. Amberly Brown says:

    I was under the impression that the St. Louis City red light cameras had been ruled unconstitutional or unenforceable by the municipal courts. Has that ruling been upheld or over turned? I would like to know if I’m legally obligated to pay a red light violation ticket in St. Louis City.

    • The Missouri Court of Appeals has not issued its ruling yet regarding whether the St. Louis City red-light cameras are unconstitutional. For now, the red-light cameras in St. Louis City are still valid and enforceable. In fact, during the last 6 months of 2012, the City added 11 more red-light cameras. See my previous blog post titled “St. Louis City Adds More Red Light Cameras,” which includes the locations of the new cameras.

  2. Jeff DeMere says:

    I have called and called the St.Louis city courts to ask what I think is a simple question regarding these red light camera tickets. The only person that knows the answer is out on sick leave since at least 12/28/2012. I have finally gotten her secretaries number, but she won’t return calls either. The question is what to do if you are a business and it’s one of your drivers that ran the red light, but you don’t know which driver had the vehicle on that day or at that time. Is there some ruling that says I’m legally responsible to know? Thanks for any help you may be in this matter. There seems to be no information that address business’ directly on this subject.

    • The registered owner of the vehicle is responsible for paying the fine for a red-light camera ticket, just like with parking tickets. If you knew who was driving the company vehicle at the time the ticket was issued, you could provide the court with that person’s name and address so the court could pursue him or her. Since you don’t know who was driving, you are legally responsible for paying the ticket since you are the owner of the business that is the registered owner of the vehicle. If that were not the case, then only non-commercial vehicle-owners would have to pay red-light camera tickets but owners of commercial vehicles would get off scot-free without paying. You can call the phone # on the ticket and ask for a court date and go talk to the judge about it. However, in my opinion, the judge is not going to dismiss the ticket just because you don’t know who was driving your company vehicle at the time the ticket was issued.

  3. Cristina says:

    Do you defend people in court who want to contest these tickets?

    • No, I don’t. Red-light camera tickets are already non-moving, no-point violations, so it makes more sense for most people to just pay the $100 fine, rather than hiring an attorney to represent you in a trial. If you believe you have a defense, there are many attorneys who advertise that they handle red-light camera tickets.

  4. Brett says:

    My wife was arrested for failure to pay a red light traffic ticket. The ticket was mailed to an old address and we never received it. This was four years ago. Is there any law or legal precedent on what the issuing department (Wentzville) must do to insure that the ticket was received? In the case file there is the original mailed ticket with the return to sender from the USPS, but no second attempt.
    Thanks.

    • No, it’s up to the defendant to make sure the address on their driver’s license is current. That is the address the court will use when sending correspondence to you. I am not aware of any law or rule that requires the court to make sure the defendant actually receives the ticket or other correspondence sent by the court. Instead of going to the trouble of trying to locate a defendant’s current address, the court will just issue an arrest warrant for the defendant. Many people move and don’t leave a forwarding address because they are trying to evade debt collectors and other people to whom they owe money. And it wouldn’t be fair to all the people who paid their red-light camera tickets to give defendants a “free pass” because they claim they didn’t receive the ticket in the mail from the court.

  5. Kelsey says:

    I’ve read that the city of Wentzville is removing their red light cameras before the end of this month. If that is true, are they still issuing tickets from them until they’re taken out? Also, if they are and someone pays the ticket, who is going to get the money if the contract with the outside company has expired? Will an issue for arrest still be sent if this program is no longer in place?

  6. Ronni Walker says:

    can you still pay your red light ticket (per mail) after you receive a summons for court and not have to go to court?

    • You should be able to pay the fine without appearing in court, but I suggest that you call the court clerk to confirm that it’s allowed. If it were me, I’d go to the court clerk’s office in person to pay the red light camera ticket fine and ask for a receipt. If you mail your payment and the post office loses it, or it doesn’t arrive before the court date, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.

  7. Sean Dean says:

    Hello, I see you mention Bel-Ridge, Hinsdale, and Pine Lawn do not issue arrest warrants for non-payment of camera speeding violations, can you tell me if Calverton Park does? I received a violation in the mail for a company vehicle, it’s addressed to “Corporation ####”, not my name. In this instance how would they identify who to arrest? Thank You

    • I don’t know if Calverton Park Municipal Court issues arrest warrants for unpaid speed camera tickets. You can call the court clerk and ask. It’s possible that the court would issue a warrant against the license plates of the vehicle, which means that the vehicle could be seized and whoever happened to be driving it at the time would have to find another way to get home.

  8. Heather says:

    I missed my court date for a red light ticket today in st louis city. I understand that the city doesn’t issue warrants for the unpaid tickets, but am I at risk of a warrant for fta?

    • If you missed your court date for your red-light camera ticket in St. Louis City Municipal Court, they can issue a warrant for your arrest, but in the past they have not issued warrants for people who refuse to pay their red-light camera tickets. This could definitely change, however, so your best bet is to either pay the fine or, if you’re planning on disputing the ticket, go to the court clerk and pay the $35 fee to lift the warrant.

  9. Greg says:

    Andrea, great blog. I seemed to have lost my St. Louis city red light ticket. I’ve called the city at (314) 622-3231 but can’t seem to get a clerk to pick up. How do I go about getting a copy of my ticket so I can pay?

    • Yes, it’s really difficult to get through to the court clerk at St. Louis City Municipal Court. If you are unable to go to the court personally, you could mail your $100 payment to the court with a letter stating that you lost the ticket, and include your name, address, and date of birth so they will apply your payment to the correct defendant. If you don’t pay, you might receive a summons to appear in court, and that summons should contain the case # for your ticket.

  10. Mark says:

    Any word on whether St. Louis CITY will issue FTA warrants for failing to pay the FIRST notice of red light violation ticket?

    • St. Louis City Municipal Court has always said that they can issue warrants but they currently don’t issue warrants for failure to pay red light camera tickets, and I don’t believe they will charge you with FTA (Failure to Appear).

  11. Cindy says:

    Just checking if STL city still does NOT assess points for a red light camera ticket. Someone told me that it has changed and they DO assess points. Can you please clarify? Thanks.

    • No, that is not correct. St. Louis City Municipal Court does not assess points for red light camera tickets. Red light camera tickets issued by the St. Louis City Municipal Court are no-point violations.

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