7/1/2005Red Light Cameras Now Illegal in Virginia
Virginia's seven red light camera programs are officially shut down.
As of today, Virginia cities may no longer legally issue red light camera tickets. Earlier this year the state legislature had declined to reauthorize photo enforcement, bringing the ten-year experiment with the devices to an end. Camera programs in Alexandria, Fairfax City and County, Vienna and Virginia Beach have officially ceased operation. Arlington had been the first to turn off its cameras on June 15. Only Falls Church will keep cameras operating to monitor traffic and count "violations," but they are not allowed to photograph motorists or issue tickets.
City officials in the Northern Virginian communities will be lobbying for a reinstatement of the state's red light camera law, but members of the state House of Delegates have been consistently unimpressed with the performance of cameras having turned back several attempts to extend and preserve the program. Legislators pointed to the recent study by sponsored by the Virginia Department of Transportation as a primary reason for rejecting the devices. The study concluded, "The cameras are correlated with an increase in total injury crashes, with the increase being between 7% and 24%."
Fairfax became the first Virginia city to issue a photo ticket eight years ago. Together, the seven camera jurisdictions have issued an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 citations. This generated millions in profit for camera vendor ACS, which held four contracts, as well as Nestor with two and Redflex with one. Most of the cities had reached the point of profitability in their programs, though they claim not to have made much money after startup costs were considered. The cities advocated an increase in the red light running fine amount of $50, which would have made the program extremely profitable. The top camera fines in the country are California's $361 red light camera citation and the $1000 fine for a second speed camera offense in Illinois.