Pennsylvania bill allowing local radar delayed until next year

| 12/27/2007

The work year in the Pennsylvania statehouse is shutting down without passage of a bill that would allow local police to use radar to nab speeders. However, it isn’t a dead issue.

The measure remained in the House Transportation Committee when lawmakers started wrapping up the 2007 regular session. It can be brought back for consideration there during the session that begins Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that prohibits municipal police from enforcing speed limits with radar. Only state troopers are allowed to use radar.

Reps. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, and Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, want to change the state’s distinction. Their legislation – HB1957 – would permit local, full-time police officers who work for full-service police departments to use radar.

If signed into law, local governments would have the option to adopt an ordinance approving local radar use. Notices would be posted in areas where radar is implemented.

“The time has come to put Pennsylvania on par with other states’ speed enforcement,” Vereb said in a written statement. “This legislation would give local law enforcement the same tool the state police have used for decades successfully.”

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. Supporters counter that expanding the use of radar beyond major highways would increase safety and reduce fatalities on all the state’s streets.

To guard against cities setting up speed traps, the bill would allow fines from speeding to be used entirely to compensate towns for the costs incurred to keep their program running. Additional revenue would be routed to the state police for “traffic safety purposes.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor