A Missouri man was threatened with jail for not paying a red-light camera ticket, but when he got a lawyer the city of Arnold dropped the ticket.

The lawsuit by Fenton residents James and Kara Hoekstra alleges that the ticketing process is illegal and unconstitutional, collecting fines through fraud and extortion to benefit the city and its red-light camera contractor. It seeks unspecified damages from the city, several city officials, and the contractor, American Traffic Solutions Inc.

The couple received a ticket in the mail from Arnold on Aug. 15, accusing them of running a red light in a 2005 Jeep on July 29. It demanded a payment of $94.50. City records show it was one of 13,921 citations issued between October 2005 and Jan. 24, 2008.

The lawsuit said James Hoekstra was threatened with arrest when he refused to pay, but that the city dropped the ticket after he got a lawyer.

There's a possibility that the red-light cameras violate state law, and the allegation is that the city dropped the ticket so it wouldn't have to defend its cameras in court and risk losing the system entirely.

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