3/21/2007Missouri, Georgia May Limit Ticket Camera Profit
Legislation eliminating the profit incentive threatens red light camera programs in Georgia and Missouri.
Two states, Georgia and Missouri, are following the example of New Mexico by adopting legislation restricting the ability of cities to profit from photo enforcement programs. The Georgia state House of Representatives yesterday voted 110-60 to direct 75 percent of automated ticketing profit to a state trauma fund. Although the original version of the legislation would simply outlawed traffic cameras, lawmakers struck a compromise that would impose a number of less stringent restrictions on use of the devices.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the law would require jurisdictions to consider engineering alternatives to cameras and file a report describing the options for each intersection on an annual basis. Although the bill states that only sworn police officers would be allowed to issue tickets, in practice such provisions have proved meaningless in California cities where an officer conducts a "bulk approval" of a stack of citations without first examining them. The measure also forbids cities from shortening yellow signal times either before or during a photo enforcement program. Each city must file an annual report on its camera program by February 1 or the state will impound all revenue generated.
Likewise, Missouri's state Senate last week adopted an amendment directing red light camera profit to the public school system. A similar provision in the North Carolina state constitution caused several cities, including Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville and High Point, to drop their photo enforcement programs after an appeals court ruling last May insisted on payment to the schools. The Missouri state House and governor must approve the measure before it becomes law.
Georgia General Assembly
The House Committee on Motor Vehicles offers the following substitute to HB 77:
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT
To amend Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to motor vehicles and traffic, so as to require use of a certified peace officer to swear to a traffic light violation; to provide for an engineering study; to provide for changing timing; to provide for reports to the Department of Transportation; to provide for disposition of funds collected through use of traffic-control signal monitoring devices; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to motor vehicles and traffic, is revised in Code Section 40-6-20, relating to enforcement by traffic-control signal monitoring devices, as follows:
(B) The law enforcement agency for which such device is permitted shall send by first-class mail addressed to the owner of the motor vehicle postmarked not later than ten days after the date of the alleged violation:
(i) A citation for the alleged violation, which shall include the date and time of the violation, the location of the intersection, the amount of the civil monetary penalty imposed, and the date by which the civil monetary penalty shall be paid;
(ii) A copy of the recorded image;
(iii) A copy of a certificate sworn to or affirmed by a certified peace officer employed by a law enforcement agency for which such device is authorized and stating that, based upon inspection of recorded images, the owner´s motor vehicle was operated in disregard or disobedience of a CIRCULAR RED or RED ARROW signal in violation of subsection (a) of this Code section and that such disregard or disobedience was not otherwise authorized by law;
(C) Proof that a motor vehicle was operated in disregard or disobedience of a CIRCULAR RED or RED ARROW signal in violation of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be evidenced by recorded images produced by a traffic-control signal monitoring device authorized pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 14 of this title. A copy of a certificate sworn to or affirmed by a certified peace officer employed by a law enforcement agency for which such device is authorized and stating that, based upon inspection of recorded images, a motor vehicle was operated in disregard or disobedience of a CIRCULAR RED or RED ARROW signal in violation of subsection (a) of this Code section and that such disregard or disobedience was not otherwise authorized by law shall be prima-facie evidence of the facts contained therein; and
(8) The provisions of this subsection shall limit law enforcement agencies to the use of traffic-control signal monitoring devices in enforcing subsection (a) of this Code section."
Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-14-21, relating to the use of traffic-control signal monitoring devices, as follows:
(b) No county or municipality shall operate a traffic-control signal monitoring device unless it has first conducted a traffic engineering study of the approach to an intersection to determine whether, in addition to or as an alternative to the traffic-control signal monitoring device, a design change to the approach, reducing the approach speed, or a change in the signalization of the intersection is likely to reduce the number of accidents or red light violations at that intersection. This report shall be submitted with the annual report required under these provisions.
(c) No county or municipal governing authority shall be authorized to use traffic-control signal monitoring devices where any arresting officer or official of the court having jurisdiction of traffic cases is paid on a fee system. This subsection shall not apply to any official receiving a recording fee.
(d) A county or municipality shall not impose a civil penalty under this Code section on the owner of a motor vehicle if the operator of the vehicle was arrested or issued a citation and notice to appear by a peace officer for the same violation that is recorded by a traffic- control signal monitoring device.
(c)(e) If a county or municipality elects to use traffic-control signal monitoring devices, no portion of any civil monetary penalty collected through the use of such devices may be paid to the manufacturer or vendor of the traffic-control signal monitoring devices. The compensation paid by the county or municipality for such devices shall be based on the value of such equipment and shall not be based on the number of citations issued or the revenue generated by such devices.
(d)(f)(1) A traffic-control signal monitoring device shall not be used by a law enforcement agency unless the law enforcement agency employs at least one full-time certified peace officer.
(2) Failure of a law enforcement agency to continue to meet the standards provided by this subsection shall cause such agency to be ineligible to use traffic-control signal monitoring devices.
(e)(g) A traffic-control signal monitoring device shall not be used to produce any photograph, microphotograph, electronic image, or videotape showing the identity of any person in a motor vehicle."
Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-14-22, relating to timing of traffic-control signals, as follows:
The timing of any traffic-control signal which is being monitored by a traffic-control signal monitoring device shall conform to regulations promulgated by the Department of Transportation pursuant to Code Section 32-6-50. The duration of the yellow or red light of any traffic-control device at which a traffic-control signal monitoring device is installed shall not be decreased prior to the installation of a device or during the time for which the device is operated. Each county or municipal law enforcement agency using a traffic-control signal monitoring device shall at its own expense test the device for accuracy at regular intervals and record and maintain the results of each test. Such test results shall be public records subject to inspection as provided by Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50. Each such test shall be made in accordance with the manufacturer´s recommended procedure. Any such device not meeting the manufacturer´s minimum accuracy requirements shall be removed from service and thereafter shall not be used by the county or municipal law enforcement agency until it has been serviced and calibrated at the expense of the law enforcement agency by a qualified technician."
Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-14-23, relating to signs to notify motorists of use of traffic-control signal monitoring devices, as follows:
Each county or municipality using traffic-control signal monitoring devices shall erect signs on every highway which comprises a part of the state highway system at that point on the highway which intersects the jurisdictional limits of the county or municipality. A sign shall be erected also by such entity on each public road on the approach to the next traffic-control signal for such road when a traffic-control signal monitoring device is monitoring such next signal for such road. Such signs shall be of a design specified by the Department of Transportation and shall be a nationally recognized regulatory sign as designated by the Federal Highway Administration´s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices."
Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-14-24, relating to reports regarding use of traffic-control signal monitoring devices, as follows:
(a) Each county or municipality using any traffic-control signal monitoring device shall submit not later than February 1 of each year a report on such use during the preceding calendar year to the Department of Transportation. Such report shall include, without limitation:
(1) A description of the locations where traffic-control signal monitoring devices were used;
(2) The number of violations recorded at each location and in the aggregate on a monthly basis;
(3) The total number of citations issued;
(4) The number of civil monetary penalties and total amount of such penalties paid after citation without contest;
(5) The number of violations adjudicated and results of such adjudications, including a breakdown of dispositions made;
(6) The total amount of civil monetary penalties paid; and
(7) The quality of the adjudication process and its results.
(b) If any county or municipality fails to provide the report provided for in subsection (a) of this Code section, all revenues generated from the operation of any traffic-control signal monitoring device in that county or municipality shall be forwarded to the general fund of the state. The county or municipality shall not be entitled to retain any revenue until the annual report is filed and accepted by the Department of Transportation.
(c) The Department of Transportation shall forward copies of all reports to the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House by March 1 of each year. The department shall also forward to the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House a complete list of all traffic-control signal monitoring devices currently in use."
Said title is further amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:
The amount of civil monetary penalties collected under the provisions of this article, less any costs incurred for acquisition, installation, maintenance, and operation of the traffic-control signal monitoring devices, and less 25 percent of the remaining money to be retained by the county or municipality, shall be deposited in the general fund of this state with the intent that these moneys be used to fund a trauma care system in Georgia. The Office of Treasury and Fiscal Services shall separately account for all of the moneys received under the provisions of this Code section."
This Act shall become effective upon its approval by the Governor or upon its becoming law without such approval.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.