2/21/2017Tennessee Lawmaker Renews Fight Against Traffic Cameras
State representative in Tennessee uses Monopoly money to pay photo citation, urges residents to toss their tickets.
Tennessee state Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) knows it will be tough this year to beat the entrenched interests protecting the photo enforcement industry in his state. Past attempts to ban the use of automated ticketing outright have been blocked by lobbyists for Volunteer State municipalities and photo enforcement companies. Holt has decided to get creative this session to deal with what he sees as an unconstitutional arrangement.
"These particular citations violate constitutional rights," Holt explained in a live Facebook video last week. "In my opinion, they turn the American system of justice on its head. These tickets assume guilt first. In the United States, we're supposed to presume innocence of the individual until they are proven guilty. This is the reason I detest this particular form of enforcement."
On Wednesday, a state House Transportation subcommittee will consider Holt's first attempt to rein in the cameras, House Bill 780. The measure requires a police officer using a traffic camera to have the flashing lights on his marked squad car active, preventing police from setting up a sneaky speed trap, as Holt says is done in the town of Bradford. A second provision in the bill requires the officer to "immediately" issue the ticket, bypassing the current system that outsources ticket issuance to private companies located in Arizona or Australia.
"If we really want people to slow down, and we're not there to just trap them, this bill will address that," Holt explained.
Tennessee does not impose any penalties for non-payment of red light camera or speed camera citations. To emphasize the point with a bit of drama last year, Holt set a ticket on fire. This time, he held up a citation sent on behalf of a municipality and waved the accompanying payment envelope on camera.
"It has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with what they want you to put in this envelope here," Holt said. "So my suggestion is, first of all, use their envelope. Do not write your name on it. Do not indicate in any way that you received this."
Holt then proceeded to stuff the payment envelope with a $50 bill from a Monopoly board game.
"So send that in to them," Holt said.
Holt's more serious legislative effort, House Bill 779, is designed to restore the right of photo ticket recipients to challenge the citation in an actual court of law, rather than an administrative hearing run by the municipality.
"No political subdivision may by ordinance, resolution, or any other means prohibit or limit access to the court system to persons issued a notice of violation or citation based solely upon evidence obtained from any unmanned traffic enforcement camera," HB779 states.
The bill is intended to serve as a placeholder that he can use to add more restrictions that might have a better chance of passing as the session progresses. A copy of Holt's photo enforcement bills is available in a 70k PDF file at the source link below.