MO bill restricts red light cameras, has trucking-related provisions

| 3/11/2009

A bill awaiting final approval on the floor of the Missouri Senate includes several trucking provisions. The most notable provision in the bill would put new restrictions on the use of cameras to tickets motorists who run red lights.

Senators tacked onto the bill Tuesday, March 10, an amendment that would require police to positively identify drivers by face, not the vehicle, before tickets can be issued. A snapshot of the rear license plate on the vehicle also would be needed.

The cameras, which are in use in more than two dozen Missouri towns, snap pictures of red-light runners’ vehicles. A ticket is mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Sen. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, offered the amendment to protect the rights of motorists.

“We have got to quit incrementally giving away our rights. And there are constitutional rights being trampled on with these cameras. Let’s put the burden back on those enforcing the law and not on citizens,” Lembke told lawmakers during floor debate.

Among the trucking provisions in the bill are rules on violating out-of-service orders and prohibiting the issuance of commercial driver’s licenses to haul hazmat to people who fail to pass background checks.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance the bill – SB58 – to the full Senate with the mandate that trucks transporting hazardous materials can be driven solely by operators who pass a background check by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Licenses would be denied or revoked if the federal agency issues a “determination of a threat” by drivers.

Supporters say the change is needed to address federal rules that require states to deny or revoke licenses to people who pose threats to the country.

Another provision would prohibit expunging records of CDL holders if they are found guilty or plead guilty with a blood-alcohol content of .04 percent or greater while holding a CDL at the time of the offense.

A separate provision would mandate that CDL holders who fail to appear in court or pay would lose their driving privileges until they fulfill their obligations.

One more provision is intended to discourage violating out-of-service orders. People convicted of driving while out of service would be disqualified from driving truck “in a manner prescribed by the federal regulations.”

Supporters say adoption of the OOS penalty would preserve some of Missouri’s federal highway funding.

If approved by the full Senate, the bill would advance to the House for further consideration.

A bill still in the Senate Transportation Committee also focuses on trucking. SB59 would require all shipments of radioactive waste traveling in and through the state to be assessed fees. Shippers who fail to pay fees or notify the Department of Natural Resources about shipments would face penalties up to 10 times the amount of the original assessed fee.

Revenue from the fees would be deposited into the state’s Environmental Radiation Monitoring Fund.

The measure calls for exempting from the fees and notification requirements radioactive waste being shipped by or for the federal government for military or national defense purposes.

The provisions in the bill would sunset after six years.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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