Are red light cameras unconstitutional?

More and more red lights cameras have been installed in Tuscaloosa. Do they provide a greater sense of traffic safety in the city?
Contributing Writer Derek Shum

TUSCALOOSA – Since the inception of red light cameras last summer, more and more traffic offenders have been identified by the Tuscaloosa Police Department. The red light cameras are at some of Tuscaloosa’s busiest intersections including McFarland, Skyland and Lurleen Wallace Boulevards.

Tuscaloosa police say the installments could help prevent accidents, enforce traffic rules and limit reckless driving. Traffic violations and vehicle accidents in a college town frequently happens and students are most susceptible to such civil fines, according to Councilor Kip Tyner

When the citation and camera system was first introduced in Tuscaloosa, more than 300 citations were issued in the first month. As a matter of fact, when two more cameras were installed on McFarland Boulevard in March, more than 800 citations were issued during first three months. More than $86,000 worth of fines were collected during that timeframe, according to the Tuscaloosa Police Department,

The money generated from each citation is held in bond in the event a lawsuit emerges to test the system, according to City Engineer David Griffin,

Citations are issued to offenders who run through a red light. Each violation is reviewed by the Tuscaloosa Police Department before a citation is issued. Subsequently, the accused motorist can watch the footage on onviewcitation.com with a unique personal identification number listed on the ticket. The civil fine for a standard red light violation is $110. City hall keeps $70 and $10 is handed to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center as a state-mandated fee for record keeping.

Despite the system’s success in identifying traffic violations, some local residents have stated their disapproval on the system.

Although some people have mentioned how it will help the police in enforcing traffic laws, others do not agree that it is safe. They noted how they would be forced to slam their brakes when the yellow light is on instead of going through the light because they do not want to get a ticket. As a result, they said drivers behind have a higher probability to collide with them.

There are also nationwide groups that stated how red light cameras are unconstitutional and how it breaches individual rights of a citizen. They claimed these are used mainly for increasing local and state revenue in Alabama.

As much as the disapproval inflects on these red light cameras, Councilor Matthew Calderone explained the situation among conceived offenders. Although he is a newly appointed councilor and has been in office in less than a year and has not had the opportunity to discuss or vote on the red light cameras, he was able to relate the situation to university students. Mostly importantly, he stated how the red light cameras would affect someone only if they break the law.