Even though Killeen’s red-light traffic enforcement cameras were shut off on Sunday at midnight, the topic isn’t dead yet.
The final agenda item in the Killeen City Council’s workshop meeting Tuesday addressed the pending litigation against the city.
Local attorney Brett Pritchard filed a lawsuit against the city on April 6 that labeled the cameras as “unconstitutional in many respects.”
The cameras take photos of cars that run red lights, and a $75 ticket is issued to the registered owner. As part of the contract — which expired Sunday — the city and Redflex had been splitting the revenue.
Fines from system unconstitutional?
The lawsuit contends the fines issued from red-light camera system are “unconstitutional” because they seek “to deprive a person of his property ($75 or up to $100) for what has been determined by the legislature for some time to be criminal conduct.”
Pritchard received a red-light camera ticket; however, he said he was not operating the car when the violation occurred. In most traffic violations, like speeding or a broken tail light, the driver of the car would receive the ticket. Pritchard said red-light camera tickets should be handled the same way.
“How do you confront a camera?” he said in a March interview with the Herald.
The lawsuit argues that a traffic violation is a criminal offense.
The violation of the transportation code is punishable by a fine from $1 to $200, and those who violate that code should be able to have a trial by jury.
The cameras brought in $302,208 for the city in 2016 after it paid the state and Redflex shares of the money from red-light tickets.
In 2015, the city received $390,733.70. From 2010 to 2014, the cameras generated $1.4 million.
With city finances under a microscope and a police department facing decreased funding, it won’t be easy to replace that revenue.
In July 2016, Fort Worth-area resident Russell Bowen went to court against the city of Richardson over an unpaid, $75 red-light camera ticket when he was not allowed to register his vehicle.
The judge ruled in his favor and awarded him $27,500 in attorney fees.
Two weeks later, Richardson announced the suspension of its red-light camera program. That ruling is currently being appealed.