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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Drivers, not registered owners, should be ticketed at red lights

By Mary Hussmann
September 1, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Many Columbia residents oppose red-light cameras.

These violations make money for the city. The government gets $76, and the Gatso company that furnished the cameras gets $44 per ticket. People suspect that the time length of the green or yellow lights has been shortened.

In the past, cameras invaded our privacy by taking a picture of the offending driver. If identified, that driver would get a $120 ticket.

On Aug. 19, the Columbia City Council changed the red-light ticketing system and made matters worse. City staff had reported that the cameras weren’t able to identify all offending drivers, causing the city to lose about $200,000. So, staff advised adding a picture of the license plate and just sending the ticket to the vehicle owner.

True, convicting the owner will produce more revenue, but we need to ask, “Is it fair to ticket a title owner if that person was not the one who violated the law?”

A driver who runs a red light or stop sign endangers lives. To deter this, the driver should be held personally responsible, issued a ticket and have points assessed against his license. That could more legitimately be done by a policeman.

The council members should not unjustly squeeze more money out of our pockets or hassle guiltless title owners into proving their innocence.

To their credit, Laura Nauser and Karl Skala voted against this change.

Good law enforcement recognizes our rights of privacy, protects the innocent from unfair dealings and holds individuals personally responsible. This new system is faulty not only because it invades our privacy, but because it fails to protect us and betrays a fundamental principle of justice: innocent until proven guilty.

Mary Hussmann is a Columbia resident.