New Tennessee laws restrict use of traffic cameras

| 5/30/2008

Gov. Phil Bredesen has signed two bills into law in Tennessee that put restrictions on cities’ use of traffic cameras to nab red-light runners. They take effect July 1.

More than 10 cities throughout the state use the enforcement tool. The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners’ or speeders’ vehicles and license plates. Tickets are mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

The first bill – SB3258 – requires motorists to be notified of $67.50 citations by certified mail. Failure to pay fines within 30 days would result in a second notification being sent via certified mail. Only then could violators be assessed late fees.

Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, said the new rules are intended to ensure that drivers who receive tickets are given ample notice. He cited existing rules that give vehicle owners 30 days in most localities to pay up before facing additional fees – sometimes more than double the ticket amount.

The other bill signed into law, previously SB3423, includes a provision to prohibit shortening of yellow signals for the purpose of increasing profits from tickets.

“This is an effort to ensure that this system of camera-generated ticketing is done for safety, and not abused for the benefit of local treasuries,” Burchett said in a written statement.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Tennessee in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor