North Texas attorney argues legality of red light cameras

A North Texas attorney is continuing his fight against red light cameras by taking his case to the state's Fifth District Court of Appeals.

The attorney says the cameras are unconstitutional and has been fighting for the people who can't afford to hire an attorney themselves.

Red light cameras generate more than $100 million for Texas cities every year. One attorney fighting them says his goal is that his case will be where red light cameras and the constitution intersect.

The intersection at Belt Line Road and South Central Expressway is where the red light camera case all began for Russell Bowman in November 2012. But he says he wasn't actually there.

“I was not driving the car,” he said.

Bowman thinks one of his family members was behind the wheel, but he got the ticket.

“I don't even know if the car ran the red light or not,” he said. “But regardless, I wasn't driving. I shouldn't have to pay.”

Bowman contends that the red light cameras are unconstitutional.

"Let's say at the time of the red light I can show unequivocally that I was on an operating table having surgery,” he said. “I still couldn't rebut the presumption. Under our law, you can't have an irrefutable presumption."

If Bowman didn't pay the ticket, his vehicle registration would have been revoked. As an attorney, he decided to fight the system.

"Cities count on the fact that no one is going to spend the money to fight these things so they can perpetuate what Mr. Stewart and I feel is an unconstitutional system,” he said.

So Bowman teamed up with his friend, attorney Scott Stewart.

"I would estimate at this point Russ and I have $70,000-80,000 worth of time,” Bowman said.

The attorneys have already won their case in judicial court. But the city of Richardson appealed the ruling, arguing that it’s your responsibility if it's your car. The city also defended the overall use of cameras as legal.

On Tuesday, Bowman and Stewart made their arguments before a three-judge state court of appeals panel —  all for a $75 ticket.

“But it's not just about a $75 ticket,” Bowman said. “Russ is not the only victim of this thing. There are a lot of people who have been assessed these penalties that can't pay them. But they have to find a way to pay them.”

Even though the city of Richardson believes its red light camera system was operating legally, the city has suspended its use of red light cameras until a judge rules on the legality of the program.

It could take months before there is an appeals court ruling. Then, it is likely that either side will appeal whatever the ruling is to the Texas supreme court.

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