A Denton lawyer who fought the constitutionality of the city's red light camera program applauds the recent vote by the Texas state legislature to outlaw the traffic enforcement devices. The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Greg Abbott.
Chris Raesz, a Denton attorney who filed a lawsuit on behalf of four plaintiffs challenging Denton's program, says it was a lack of due process, among other things, which sparked the fight.
"In our opinion, it was unconstitutional," said Raesz. "We were trying to find a way to shut it down."
The bill, which was approved earlier this month in the legislature, now awaits the signature of the governor. It would ban red light cameras across Texas.
"It's the right decision," said Raesz. "Or I wouldn't be involved in this lawsuit."
Raesz filed the suit in early 2016, on behalf of four defendants who thought the tickets they received for red light violations were unwarranted. The four each saw their tickets dismissed.
The Texas bill allows cities to keep red light cameras in place through the remainder of their contracts with their vendor. That means some red light camera programs in North Texas might not go away right away. But in Denton, the city's contract with camera system vendor Redflex includes a provision which effectively terminates the deal if and when the bill is signed.
"It would take some time for the vendor to remove those cameras," said Ryan Adams, Denton's deputy director of intergovernmental relations. "But it would be an immediate termination of our red light camera program once that bill becomes effective."
Adams says Denton city council members are scheduled to meet next week, when they'll consider the possibility of waiving any red light tickets issued on or after May 18 -- the day after state lawmakers approved the ban.
As for Raesz's lawsuit – "It pretty much makes everything we were doing moot," he said.
That is because Denton's red light cameras, if and when the bill is signed, would also become moot – Raesz's goal, all along.
"This process does not work right," he said. "And it needs to stop."