Lawsuit Attacks Pre-2008 Traffic Cameras in New Way

A lawsuit filed in Knoxville takes a different approach in attacking the legality of traffic cameras than earlier litigation, which was unsuccessful. Basically, the new lawsuit says that – until July 1, 2008, when a law enacted by the General Assembly took effect – cities had no authority under state law to set up red-light camera systems and, therefore, they were illegal under state statutes and the state constitution.
While the lawsuit attacks red-light camera tickets issued in Knoxville, the argument, if accepted by the courts, would seem to apply to other cities that set up the cameras prior to July 1, 2008.
The text of the lawsuit is HERE. Rebecca Ferrar has a story on the matter. Here’s an excerpt:
Robert Pryor, the lawyer in the case, said his clients are seeking refunds of all fines, penalties, late fees and other charges made in regard to red-light tickets, not only for the four, but as a class for all those cited during the time frame the lawsuit covers.
The lawsuit covers the period from Feb. 1, 2005, when the city first passed the red-light ordinance, until the city passed another ordinance effective July 1, 2008, to mirror a state law effective the same day, making it a traffic violation to run a red light under camera programs.
Knoxville actually put its red-light camera program in place in February 2006, when the cameras were installed, the lawsuit states.
Pryor argues violations charged under Knoxville’s red-light camera ordinance are invalid because such charges did not conform with any existing state law, making them unconstitutional. The state constitution says there must be “consistency” between municipal laws and state laws and that municipal laws shall not conflict with state laws, according to the lawsuit.
Pryor says it’s a legal claim that has not been made before in Tennessee.

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