Return of 'photo red' gets OK in Virginia

| Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Virginia Senate has approved a bill that would allow localities to use cameras to catch red-light runners.

Senators voted 30-9 Wednesday, Feb. 1, to advance a bill – SB453 – that would bring back the cameras at selected intersections in Virginia Beach and some northern Virginia cities.

The General Assembly pulled the plug on the pilot program last July after critics argued that they infringed on privacy rights and caused rear-end collisions.

Virginia Beach is the only city that continues to collect data from the cameras, though no tickets are issued from the information, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

The bill’s next stop is the House where it is sure to face steep opposition.

There, a five-member panel of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted Thursday, Feb. 2, to reject two measures to bring back the “photo red” program. Another failed effort called for taking the program statewide.

Lawmakers voiced concerns that the cameras infringed on motorists’ rights to face their accusers.

Sponsors of the legislation tried to alleviate the concern with provisions that would allow vehicle owners to notify courts if they were not behind the wheel at the time of the incident. They also specified that license demerit points would not be assessed and that insurance companies would not be notified.

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