Legislative Committee Gives Green Light To Camera Enforcement At Red Lights
March 19, 2011
The legislature's transportation committee voted Friday to approve a bill that would enable any Connecticut municipality with a population of more than 60,000 to install cameras to take pictures of red-light violators at intersections, and to impose a fine of $124 for each violation.
The 25-11 committee vote sends the bill to the floor of the state Senate for debate and action. Approval also would be required in the House before the bill could be sent to the governor, who then would decide whether to sign it into law.
Legislative approval isn't guaranteed. At least one such bill has cleared the committee in recent years, but none has been approved in the full House and Senate.
This latest proposal is likely to revive past debates that pitted safety advocates, who seek to prevent the deaths of both drivers and pedestrians, against civil libertarians worried about Big Brother's electronic erosion of citizens' privacy. Some critics also say that the main reason to install the cameras is not to promote safety but to raise money for municipalities through fines.
The latest U.S. Census figures show 13 cities or towns in the state with populations of more than 60,000, and thus eligible under the bill to install "automatic traffic enforcement safety devices." They are: Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, West Hartford, Greenwich, Hamden, Meriden and Bristol.
The legislative body and chief executive in a city or town would have to give approval before the municipality embarks on the camera-based enforcement program.
The bill says that any ticket issued on the basis of a camera won't count as a moving violation, will not be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles and can't add points against a person's driving record.
As it stands now, if a police officer issues a ticket for a red-light violation, it is a moving violation and counts against a driver's record; moving violations can increase a driver's insurance rates. If a town starts using cameras at red lights under the proposed legislation, a red-light ticket issued by a live officer would still be a moving violation even though a camera-generated ticket would not be a moving violation.
The proposed fine of $124 for a violation detected by a camera is the same fine that a motorist now pays for the moving violation of running a red light. Revenue from fines would be split this way: 70 percent to the town, 15 percent to a state budget fund benefiting persons with traumatic brain injuries and 15 percent to the state's special transportation fund.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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