Five states consider new rules on ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/27/2014

The use of automated cameras to ticket drivers continues to draw debate at statehouses.

The Missouri House voted 84-63 to advance a bill that is intended to solve legal troubles with ticket cameras.

HB1557 would permit cities around the state to continue using red-light and speed cameras, as long as they follow certain guidelines.

Supporters say the change is needed to help settle ongoing legal battles.

Missouri law requires points to be added for moving violations. However, camera-generated tickets don’t assign points. As a result, courts question whether automated ticketing violates state law.

A maximum fine would also be set at $135.

To help settle the issue, the bill would prohibit penalty points from being assessed to red-light runners and speeders caught on camera.

Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, said the bill protects the money grab that cities don’t want to give up.

“It’s money to cities. It’s the ordinances. It’s the fines they collect that they get to keep. It’s all about that,” Cox said during floor debate.

The bill awaits assignment to committee in the Senate.

A bill nearing passage at the Maryland statehouse would overhaul how localities do business with ticket camera companies.

In 2009, Maryland adopted a law allowing speed cameras in highway construction zones where the speed limit is at least 45 mph. The enforcement tool is also authorized in school zones.

Violators face $40 fines with a portion of the revenue routed to the camera provider. No points are added to offenders’ licenses and insurance companies are not notified.

SB350 would no longer permit speed camera operators from getting a cut of each ticket issued. In addition, the process would be simplified for cities to get out of contracts with companies with high error rates.

House lawmakers approved a similar version of the bill. The two chambers must agree on the wording before sending the rule changes to the governor.

In Louisiana, a House lawmaker is taking multiple approaches to getting rid of ticket cameras.

One bill from Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, would require voters to sign off on posting intersections with red-light cameras.

According to a fiscal note attached to HB499, the city of Baton Rouge would stand to lose $8 million over five years if voters rejected continuing the program.

Another bill, HB631, would require traffic offenders to be issued a ticket on the spot, instead of getting it in the mail.

HB801 would prohibit tickets from being sent to drivers speeding less than 10 mph over the posted limit.

One more bill, HB859, would require automated ticketing program to extend the “yellow time” at posted intersections to six seconds.

Jim Walker, a consultant for the National Motorists Association, has said that research shows that lengthening yellow times reduces red-light running incidents 60 to 90 percent.

He said it will almost always reduce violation rates far more than cameras.

A pair of bills on South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s desk would prohibit residents from receiving camera tickets.

HB1100 would prohibit communities from partnering with photo ticketing companies to access necessary information to send red-light and speed camera tickets for alleged violations.

A separate bill sent to the governor covers a ticketing program in neighboring Iowa. HB1122 is intended to address concerns about ticket cameras posted along roadways in Sioux City, Iowa.

Information about South Dakota drivers would be prohibited from being shared for the collection of civil fines that result from camera tickets.

Florida lawmakers are working through a bill that initially sought to do away with ticket cameras throughout the state. The enforcement method is used in nearly 80 counties and cities across the state. Violators face $158 fines.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is attempting to revise his bill to gain support. Changes sought would allow new cameras at intersections as long as cities can justify their use through engineering studies.

Also, revenue raised through the cameras would be applied to traffic safety improvements. An estimated $74 million now routed to the general revenue fund would be earmarked for the state transportation trust fund.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports efforts to limit ticket cameras. OOIDA officials say the focus on the revenue-generating devices ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer has said the goal should be to keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible. He has also said that communities would be better served to pursue “intelligent traffic lights that actually monitor traffic and are triggered by traffic flow.”

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