7/9/2009Arizona Lawmakers Support Toll Roads, Speed Cameras
Arizona lawmakers pass legislation designed to introduce toll roads into the state and protect the photo radar program.
Legislation currently on the desk of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) would introduce toll roads to the state and strengthen the use of photo radar on freeways. While several state lawmakers had talked about "banning" automated ticketing machines from the highways, legislation passed on July 1 included a pair of provisions designed to ensure the controversial program's long-term survival.
If signed into law, Senate Bill 1320 would give Redflex Traffic System, an Australian company, the authority to impose license points on truck drivers who are mailed highway speeding tickets.
"A court shall only transmit abstracts of records of these violations to the department of transportation for commercial driver license holders," Senate Bill 1320 states.
Supporters of the change said it was designed to protect against the potential loss of federal highway funds. Red light cameras and speed cameras in Arizona currently issue license points only if the devices are operated on behalf of a municipality. Tickets issued by Redflex under the state freeway program were initially designed not to include points so that fewer drivers would have an incentive to challenge citations in court. The insurance industry, however, has lobbied heavily for the return of points as increased annual license premiums are a major source of revenue.
The bill also gives police officers and other "first responders" immunity from photo enforcement tickets while on duty. The move was designed to shore up support for photo radar among rank-and-file members of the law enforcement community. The legislation attempts to make it easier for computer systems to read license plates by imposing fines of $30 to $100 on drivers who allow the name of the state on a license plate to be even partially obscured by a license plate frame.
Lawmakers have a direct financial interest in preserving photo radar. Each automated ticket generates $16.50 toward the personal campaign accounts of politicians. The state is expected to generate even more revenue by allowing local jurisdictions to collect toll any new road.
"A city or town may construct, operate and finance the construction of toll roads within the corporate limits of the city or town," Senate Bill 1320 states.
A copy of Senate Bill 1320 is available in a 250k PDF file at the source link below.