Pennsylvania bill would allow local radar

| 8/19/2010

A bill in the Pennsylvania House would allow local police to use radar to nab speeders.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that prohibits municipal police from enforcing speed limits with radar. Since 1961, only state troopers have been allowed to use radar.

Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, is the sponsor of a bill that would change the state’s distinction. The bill – HB2513 – would permit local, full-time police officers who work for “full-service accredited police departments” to use radar.

Currently, local police are limited to electronic tools such as VASCAR, which determines a vehicle’s speed by measuring the time it takes to move between two points.

If signed into law, local governments would have the option of adopting an ordinance to approve local radar use.

“Radar is considered by many to be one of the most effective and accurate speed-control devices available; however, local police departments have not been permitted to use the full array of traffic enforcement tools available,” Shapiro said in a statement. “This legislation would rectify this situation.”

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 local departments to keep only 25 percent of the revenue made from speeding tickets. The state would get half of the revenue while the remaining 25 percent would go to nonprofit agencies with accreditation programs for local police officers.

The bill can be considered up until Nov. 30, which is the final day of the legislative session. If lawmakers don’t pass the bill by then, it would have to be reintroduced during the two-year session that begins in January.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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