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Court upholds Montgomery red light camera law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld Montgomery’s red light camera law.
Justices ruled Friday 6-1 in favor of the city and against motorist Richard Glass who challenged the ordinance, and related state act, as unconstitutional under the Alabama Constitution.

The 2007 ordinance established a traffic-light camera system and instituted civil penalties for traffic-light violations. The Alabama Legislature in 2008 enacted a related local act called the “Montgomery Red Light Safety Act.”

Glass challenged the constitutionality of the law on several grounds, including arguing it was a duplication of state law and not allowed under the state constitution. He also argued that it violated a section of the Alabama Constitution that says the Legislature can not pass a special local law “fixing the punishment of crime.”

Associate Justice Sarah Stewart wrote that the city law did not try to supersede general state traffic laws and also met a “demonstrated local needs” requirement. The majority opinion also noted that the red light camera law “does not impermissibly fix punishment for a crime by assessing a civil penalty for a civil violation.”

“The Ordinance and the Act, moreover, do not exempt motorists from compliance with the general laws, and Glass has not identified any conditions in the general laws that are ‘mutually repugnant’ to conditions in the Ordinance or the Act,” Stewart wrote in the majority opinion.

Chief Justice Tom Parker dissented from the majority’s ruling.

“That common sense teaches that running a red light is dangerous everywhere, not just in Montgomery. And that simple fact undercuts the City’s argument that the Legislature found a local need for red-light cameras,” Parker wrote.

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