States adopt, pursue new rules on ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/13/2014

As lawmakers in many states are preparing for a summer away from the capitol, new rules on the use of automated cameras are being signed into law or continue to draw consideration.

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.

A new law in Louisiana addresses concerns about a camera company proposing to offer speed cameras on interstates. Currently, the hand-held devices are not used along interstates in the state.

Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill into law prohibiting automated enforcement cameras along interstates. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Rep. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, said the mission of camera advocates is to set up programs in as many localities as possible.

He recently told lawmakers the new rule is necessary 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.”

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

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley put his signature on a bill to 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 gets rid of the current so-called “bounty system.” Specifically, new contracts with speed camera operators can no longer provide a cut of each ticket issued.

In addition, the process is 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 covered by contracts in which the camera company was paid per citation.

Ohio lawmakers could consider multiple bills this fall that are intended to limit, or outright ban, the use of red-light and speed cameras.

Sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, the bill specifies that speeding violations could only be issued to drivers exceeding the posted limit by more than 10 mph. In addition, SB342 would require police officers to be present at camera sites to witness violations and pull over offenders.

According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, about 250 ticket cameras are in use by at least 14 municipalities throughout the state. The annual expense to station officers at each location is estimated to be $73 million.

Opponents say the bill’s passage would be the death knell for ticketing programs.

A separate House-approved bill now in the Senate would outlaw the use of automated cameras.

HB69 would prohibit the use of the devices to ticket drivers for running red lights or speeding. An exception would be made for speed cameras posted in school zones during restricted-speed hours. A police officer would be required to be present at the site.

The future of Ohio’s ticket camera programs could be decided by a case before the state Supreme Court. Justices heard arguments on Wednesday, June 11, on whether ticket programs are improperly bypassing state courts.

The court didn’t set a timetable for a ruling.

In North Carolina, a push is underway to bring red-light cameras back to the city of Fayetteville.

The community off Interstate 95 ended their ticket program in 2006 following a court ruling that required most of the camera revenue to be sent to schools.

SB810/HB1151 would set fines at $100 – up from $50 previously.

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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