Mississippi’s use of speed radar a hot topic, again

| 1/17/2011

The battle of who gets to use speed radar to write tickets is once again underway in Mississippi.

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 have struggled for most of the past decade as opponents say the enforcement tool could be used to set up speed traps and rake in revenue from tickets.

State Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, has said he has a problem with efforts to extend the use of speed radar to sheriffs? deputies. Moak previously told Land Line he remains opposed to these attempts because ?the state already allows the Highway Patrol to leave state roads and assist local agencies.?

That isn?t good enough for supporters of expanding the use of radar. They say if every county cannot have access to radar, it should at least be made available to counties with the largest populations.

Undeterred, multiple lawmakers in the Mississippi Legislature have introduced bills that would expand the use of radar to sheriff?s deputies in the state.

Sen. Billy Hudson, R-Purvis, is the sponsor of one of a handful of bills to allow sheriffs in all of the state?s 82 counties to use radar on certain roads. His bill ? SB2265 ? would authorize sheriffs to use the devices only on public streets, roads and highways of the county lying outside the limits of municipalities.

Three more bills would allow sheriffs to use radar enforcement based on the county?s population. The first bill ? HB396 ? would limit radar use to sheriffs in counties with more than more than 70,000 people; HB290 would make the threshold 65,000 people; and the third bill ? SB2187 ? would limit it to counties with at least 200,000 people.

While there are many efforts to expand the use of radar throughout the state, one bill would place additional limits on some speed enforcement.

Moak has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of radar on state or federal highways within 1,000 feet of where the posted limit is reduced by 10 mph or more.

He said the bill ? HB17 ? is intended to help put a stop to blatant attempts to generate revenue through issuing speeding tickets. Use of radar within a certain area of a marked reduction of speed would be outlawed.

?That will allow a motorist an opportunity to slow their vehicle before they?re absolutely caught for a speeding violation,? Moak said.

The bills are all in committee.

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

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