Texas bills seek to limit, axe ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/9/2017

After one year off Texas lawmakers are wasting little time filing bills for consideration during the 2017 regular session. One issue that could get attention in the months ahead addresses the use of automated enforcement throughout the state.

Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, is one of at least a half-dozen Texas state lawmakers so far to introduce bills to limit or eliminate use of the devices throughout the state.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, 54 communities throughout Texas employ red-light cameras. At least six towns have outlawed use of automated ticketing programs.

Keough’s bill, HB113, would repeal state law allowing red-light cameras.

Local authorities that fail to comply with the rule would face civil penalties of at least $1,000. Subsequent violations could result in $10,000 fines.

Keough says the devices have not shown evidence of reducing traffic accidents, or red-light offenses, “but instead have consequently increased accidents at intersections where the devices are present.”

“Because of this, and the fact that these devices are in their very nature a violation of many Texas drivers’ constitutional rights, I am proposing that the devices become ineligible for use throughout Texas,” Keough said in prepared remarks.

A second bill from Keough covers citations issued.

Currently, fines for running red lights at monitored intersections cannot exceed $75. Failure to pay can result in offenders being barred from renewing their vehicle registration.

HB121 is intended to ensure that anyone receiving a civil citation for a red-light violation could still renew their vehicle registration.

“Withholding someone’s registration is adversely affecting the state and counties’ revenue stream for road and bridge maintenance all so a civil fine owed to a municipality could be collected,” Keough stated.

Another Senate bill, SB88, prohibits new programs from being set up around the state. Existing programs, however, would be grandfathered.

The bills await assignment to committee for the regular session that kicks off Tuesday, Jan. 10.

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

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