3/31/2009Missouri Senate Adopts Mild Restriction on Traffic Cameras
Missouri state Senate adopts bill that would authorize red light camera use while cutting photo ticket revenue in half.
The Missouri state Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation that would impose a minor restriction on the use of red light cameras. Although municipalities have no legal authorization to use the devices, red light cameras have nonetheless spread throughout the state over the past three years with the help of influential political lobbyists. Senate Bill 58 would finally grant municipalities that authorization, protecting them from legal challenge -- with a string attached that could cut the programs' profit by half.
State Senator Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis), who had earlier pushed for a complete ban on automated ticketing machines, attached language to Senate Bill 58 requiring red light cameras to photograph and positively identify drivers. This is the same restriction that currently applies in states like Arizona and California where photo tickets are accompanied by license points.
The effect on revenue can be significant as drivers whose faces are obscured cannot be fined. In San Francisco, for example, the cameras generated 55,133 potential tickets in 2001, but 25,650 of these were dumped because the photos failed to show a clear image of the driver or a front license plate was missing.
Senate Bill 58 also offers a special provision protecting motorcyclists who are faced with a red light that fails to change at an otherwise empty intersection. If "the traffic control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time" the motorcyclist is free to proceed with caution after stopping.
The legislation also creates a new ticket for drivers who use text messaging while behind the wheel and targets the speed trap town of Foristell by banning it and any other town with fewer than one thousand residents from earning thirty-five percent of its municipal revenue from speeding tickets issued on an interstate highway.
Among other provisions, the bill would prohibit free roadside memorials and instead charge a substantial fee to the immediate families of those killed in drunk driving accidents who want to put up a sign that reads "Drunk driving victim" with the victim's initials and the phrase "who's next?"
To become law, the measure must be passed by the state House and signed by Governor Jay Nixon (D). A copy of the legislation is available in a 1.5mb PDF file at the source link below.