One bill halfway through the Pennsylvania statehouse would authorize speed radar use by local police.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that prohibits municipal police from enforcing speed limits with radar. Since 1961, only state troopers have been allowed to use radar.
The Senate voted 46-3 to advance legislation to the House that would change the state’s distinction. Sponsored by Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Allegheny, the measure would permit local police officers to use radar to nab speeders.
Currently, local police are limited to electronic tools such as VASCAR (visual average speed computer and recorder), which determines a vehicle’s speed by measuring the time it takes to move between two points.
The Pennsylvania State Police has said that radar is the most effective and accurate speed-control device available although local police departments have not been permitted to use the enforcement tool.
Efforts to expand radar use in the state historically have struggled as opponents say the enforcement tool could be used to set up speed traps and rake in revenue from tickets.
Vulakovich’s bill includes a requirement for municipalities to first pass an ordinance allowing the use of radar. Points would only be assigned to an offender’s license if the speed recorded is at least 10 miles over the posted speed limit.
SB251 specifies revenue from speeding tickets that exceeds 20 percent of the total municipal budget, or 20 percent of the regional police department budget, would be sent to the state’s general fund.
Vulakovich said the rule change is long overdue.
“We have sophisticated radar available and police use stop watches. It is well past time we provide our officers with speed enforcement mechanisms,” Vulakovich said during Senate floor discussion. “If you think this bill is going to result in you receiving a ticket, I say to you, ‘Slow down.’”
SB251 awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
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