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2/11/2011
South Dakota House Votes to Ban Photo Enforcement
Nearly two-thirds of the House of Representatives in South Dakota votes to ban speed cameras and red light cameras.

State Rep Peggy GibsonThe South Dakota House of Representatives voted 43 to 24 on Tuesday to prohibit the use of red light cameras and speed cameras in the state. A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by state Representative Peggy Gibson (D-Huron) took aim at the controversial automated ticketing machine set up in Sioux Falls, describing the due process denied innocent motorists ticketed by the system.

"My constituent not only did not own the car that was photographed, but she was not even in Sioux Falls at the time," Gibson said Tuesday. "In other words, she was presumed guilty of a traffic violation she did not commit in a car she did not own, but she had to go to great lengths to prove her innocence."

Sioux Falls hired the Australian contractor Redflex Traffic Systems to set up the cameras without legislative authorization. A lower court judge has already ruled the system violates state law (view decision). To address the issue, the House-passed legislation provides a straight-up ban on "photo radar speed detection" and use of a "photo monitoring device to detect any red light violation" by any "state, county, municipal or township authority." At the request of the state attorney general, an amendment was added to clarify that dashcams may still be used by law enforcement. That did not satisfy a handful of members who defended automated ticketing.

"This situation right here is a matter that should be addressed to the Sioux Falls city council," state Representative Stace Nelson (R-Fulton) said, using material provided by the local police chief. "This is a local issue, they have jurisdiction on this.... I want to remind you that the reason the light was there to begin with is the loss of a human life. Now I'm not going to ask you to quantify how much the life of one of your loved ones is worth."

State Representative Gene G. Abdallah (R-Sioux Falls) took issue with that characterization, pointing out that the camera was set up at the intersection specifically because it was one of a handful in the state where right turns on red are prohibited. Many motorists get tickets at the location not knowing they have done anything wrong.

"That is nothing but a traffic trap," Abdallah said. "Unfortunately, someone was killed on that corner. Is there a camera on every corner where someone is killed?"

If the bill is passed by the full state Senate and signed by the governor, South Dakota would become the sixteenth state to ban automated ticketing machines. Five other states are considering joining the list by enacting photo enforcement prohibitions. The bill's other primary co-sponsors included Jamie M. Boomgarden (R-Chancellor), Elaine Elliott (D-Aberdeen), Jenna Haggar (I-Sioux Falls), Mark Kirkeby (R-Rapid City), Betty Olson (R-Prairie City), Lance S. Russell (R-Hot Springs) and Charles M. Turbiville (R-Deadwood).

Source: PDF File House Bill 1161 as passed (South Dakota Legislature, 2/8/2011)

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