Judge halts Minneapolis' red-light camera program

BY Lee Egerstrom

Pioneer Press

A judge ruled today that Minneapolis' "photo cop" program is unconstitutional, a decision that at least temporarily will halt the city's controversial practice ticketing motorists captured on camera running red lights.

The ruling, issued by Hennepin County District Judge Mark S. Wernick, came in a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.

The city maintains the red-light program, in effect since July, has caused a 16 percent reduction in accidents at intersections monitored by camera.

In a statement, the city said it was disappointed with the ruling. The city has asked Wernick to stay the ruling while it decides whether to appeal. In the meantime, police will not issue tickets to red-light runners caught on camera, the city said.

Minneapolis calls the camera program its "Stop on Red" campaign. But the ACLU argued that the cameras do not prove an infraction, and place the individual in the position of having to prove innocence when all other criminal law requires that arresting authorities prove the individual's guilt.