States adopt, near new rules on ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/11/2014

Efforts to limit, or outright ban, the use of automated cameras to ticket drivers continues to draw a lot of attention at statehouses.

Twelve states prohibit the use of speed cameras and nine states prohibit the use of red-light cameras, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Twelve states use speed cameras operating in at least one location while 24 states use red-light cameras.

Two new laws in South Dakota are intended to make sure residents are not bothered with electronic ticketing.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed one bill prohibiting communities from partnering with photo ticketing companies to access necessary information to send red-light camera tickets for alleged violations. HB1100 takes effect July 1.

South Dakota has not had photo ticketing since 2010 after a circuit court judge ruled red light cameras used in Sioux Falls were illegal.

Another new law effective July 1 covers ticket programs in other states. HB1122 prohibits information about South Dakota drivers from being shared for the collection of civil fines that result from camera tickets.

The rule change addresses concerns about a ticket program in Sioux City, Iowa. The border city uses 11 red-light cameras on various roadways and two speed cameras along Interstate 29.

Tickets sent in the mail to vehicle owners run between $100 and $200. Sen. Don Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, said that during a one-year period the cameras generated about $5 million in revenue for the city.

“First-class mail does not meet due process requirements. At least it doesn’t here in South Dakota,” Lederman said in earlier remarks to the Senate Finance Committee.

In Maryland, a bill headed to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk for his expected signature would overhaul how localities do business with ticket camera companies.

In 2009, Maryland adopted a law allowing speed cameras in highway construction zones where the speed limit is at least 45 mph. The enforcement tool is also authorized in school zones.

Violators face $40 fines with a portion of the revenue routed to the camera provider. No points are added to offenders’ licenses and insurance companies are not notified.

SB350 would get rid of the current so-called “bounty system.” Specifically, speed camera operators could no longer get a cut of each ticket issued.

In addition, the process would be simplified for cities to get out of contracts with companies with high error rates.

The legislative push follows a Baltimore Sun investigation into erroneous speed readings at multiple locations in Baltimore and revelations that several jurisdictions were in contracts in which the camera company was paid per citation.

A bill halfway through the Louisiana Legislature addresses concerns about a camera company proposing to offer speed cameras on interstates. Currently, the devices are not used along interstates in the state.

House lawmakers voted 95-1 to advance a bill that would prohibit automated enforcement cameras along interstates.

Rep. Danahay said during House committee testimony that the mission of camera advocates is to set up programs in as many localities as possible.

He urged lawmakers to act because “implementation of such devices gives rise to the ethical question whether they are truly being used for the betterment of public safety or for generating revenue,” Danahay said.

HB896 includes an exception for work zones run by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

In Colorado, a state senator wants to bar local governments from using red-light and speed cameras. Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, introduced a bill to prohibit cities and towns from using automated enforcement to distribute tickets.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that covers the use of ticket cameras throughout the state. The automatic ticketing machines are used in nine communities and two counties.

HB1040 specified that drivers found in violation at photo-monitored intersections would have a right to appeal to the circuit court and that the appeal would be civil in nature.

The governor said in a veto letter he doesn’t want “cases of limited financial impact” bottlenecking “more significant civil and criminal cases.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports efforts to limit ticket cameras. OOIDA officials say the focus on the revenue-generating devices ignores the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer has said the goal should be to keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible. He has also said that communities would be better served to pursue “intelligent traffic lights that actually monitor traffic and are triggered by traffic flow.”

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