South Carolina bill would ban ticket cameras

| 1/28/2011

In an effort to apply the brakes on a potential speed trap, a bill in the South Carolina Senate is intended to put a stop to one town?s use of speed cameras.

During the 2010 regular session, lawmakers approved legislation that required tickets based solely on photos to be issued in person within an hour of the alleged violation.

Since then, a community in Jasper County has posted cameras on Interstate 95 to nab speeders. According to reports, the town of Ridgeland has issued more than 8,000 tickets since last summer. An officer is posted nearby inside an RV and the tickets are mailed to the registered owners.

A leading state lawmaker is not happy about what he considers a violation of state law. To address the issue, Senate Transportation Chairman Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, has offered a bill that would ban tickets based on photos. Police would also be required to directly hand tickets to drivers within an hour of a violation.

Any law enforcement agency that ignores the ban on automated ticketing would be responsible for paying $500 per ticket issued. The revenue would be routed to the Highway Patrol.

In addition, the town of Ridgeland would be on the hook to refund the fines already collected and to pay $500 to the state for each ticket issued. The fines would amount to $2 million that would benefit state police.

A competing effort has been offered that would authorize use of the cameras. Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, is pushing her bill to allow Ridgeland to continue its program.

Erickson?s bill ? H3443 ? is in the House Judiciary Committee. Grooms? bill ? S336 ? is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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