Expanded speed radar use hung up in Mississippi, again

| 2/24/2009

The majority of attempts in the Mississippi Legislature to expand the use of speed radar by sheriff’s deputies in the state have once again been sent to the great paper shredder.

However, a couple of efforts remain intact.

State law now restricts the use of speed radar detection equipment to the Mississippi Highway Patrol and city police departments. Cities with populations of fewer than 2,000 are prohibited from using radar on their public streets while populations of more than 15,000 can use radar on federal highways within their boundaries.

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 say the use of radar would help curb speeding and save lives in places where the population is growing outside city limits.

Sen. Lee Yancey, R-Brandon, is the sponsor of one of the unsuccessful bills. His bill sought to give sheriffs in all of the state’s 82 counties the green light to use radar detection devices, under certain circumstances. SB2223 failed to meet a deadline to advance, effectively killing it for the year.

The measure would have allowed sheriffs to use radar on roads under the jurisdiction of the board of supervisors for maintenance and construction.

Sheriffs could have used the devices only on public streets, roads and highways lying outside the limits of municipalities authorized to use radar. Radar use also would have been allowed by sheriffs in cities that don’t authorize use of the enforcement tool.

Yancey’s bill was one of numerous efforts to expand speed radar use, which drew little attention from lawmakers at the capitol. Two bills that remain active would alter the rules on speed radar in two counties.

One bill – HB439 – would allow the sheriff in Rankin County to use the devices on public streets, roads and highways lying outside the limits of incorporated cities. Another bill – HB112 – would authorize a pilot program in Jackson County. Up to 20 devices would be used for two years to determine the effect of the devices on speeding.

Both bills are in House committees.

Of particular interest to truckers, another bill that failed to meet a deadline to advance sought to authorize the Mississippi Department of Transportation to use radar on state highways to enforce speed limits solely on large trucks.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Mississippi in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.