A controversial photo speed camera ordinance that was adopted in East St. Louis in March and suspended last week is being challenged in a proposed class action suit brought May 30 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
Attorney Francis Flynn, Jr. of Carey and Danis in St. Louis filed the complaint on behalf of Harold Wilson of Granite City saying the Automated Speed Enforcement Program that went into effect on March 25 is invalid and unenforceable because the city does not have authority to pass such a law, and even if it did, the city’s ordinance fails to provide vehicle owners with adequate due process.
According to news reports, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said last week that the program was being suspended while the city worked through legal and administrative issues.
The suit states that regulation of the use of automated traffic law enforcement systems to record vehicle speed is an exclusive power and function of the state. It says that the ordinance improperly divests the city’s municipal court of some or all of its jurisdiction by establishing an administrative alternative without the express approval of the legislature.
It further claims that the ordinance purports to be in place for public safety reasons, but in reality is a means to generate revenue.
State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly told a reporter last week that the process for collecting fines is not legal and that vehicle owners do not need to pay the fines assessed.
The suit names the City and the private company that provides cameras and collects fines, Blue Line Solutions of Athens, Tenn., which keeps a percentage of generated revenue believed to be 40 percent.
According to the suit, cameras are operated by police, but Blue Line sends notices of violations to vehicle owners. Fines ranging from $100 to $280 are assessed based on miles per hour over speed limit and by zones. Penalties are stiffer in construction, safety and school zones.
The suit says that the notices do not provide the precise location of the violation as required by law, appropriate recorded images, a statement that recorded images are evidence of a speed violation, warning that failure to pay the civil penalty or contest liability in a timely manner is an admission of liability and may result in a suspension of the driving privileges of the registered owner of the vehicle and a statement that the person may proceed by paying the fine or challenging the charge in court, by mail, or by administrative hearing.
The suit also claims that a state law allowing speed cameras only applies to cities with populations in excess of 1 million.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-360.