Bill Would Ban Red Light Cameras

Legislation not expected to move in lame duck

Legislation was recently introduced that would prohibit communities from using automated traffic enforcement devices as the basis for issuing traffic tickets.

House Bill 5921 was introduced Nov. 6 by Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, in response to Senate Bill 1063, which – if enacted – would permit traffic tickets to be issued on the basis of photographs taken by unmanned cameras.

“This (House Bill 5921) was a bill we had been looking at doing, similar to the newer driver protections they are passing in states like South Dakota and New Jersey,” Rep. Shirkey said. “They’re going 180 degrees out there, from embracing them to now rejecting them.

“House Bill 5921 still needs some language changes to fully address the full range of entities we want to prohibit, but after the new speed camera bill was introduced in the Senate, we felt this bill would be a good countermeasure,” Rep. Shirkey added. “Cameras for automated enforcement create a slippery slope for government mischief we need to avoid.”

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Neither measure is expected to move in the lame duck session of the Legislature. Similar legislation, however, could be introduced in 2015. If that were to happen, both sides of the “photo cop” debate could land in the same committee. Rep. Shirkey was elected to the Senate on Nov. 4. He will join Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, who was re-elected to a second term and is the sponsor of SB 1063.

The key language in HB 5921 states:

A law enforcement agency shall not use an unmanned traffic monitoring device to detect or enforce any of the following:

(A) - Moving violations involving traffic signs, signals, or markings.

(B) - Speed limitations.

(C) - Proof of financial responsibility requirements.

The measure would also prohibit the Michigan Secretary of State from assessing points against Michigan drivers for violations that occur in other states that were based on unmanned camera systems. HB 5921 has been assigned to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“People who support the use of photo radar devices and the camera companies that make the equipment are very persistent at trying to find ways for government to put the systems in place,” said John Bowman, spokesman for the National Motorists Association. “The easiest way to combat them is to simply ban photo-enforcement, as some other states have done.

“About 15 states have banned the use of photo radar devices for law enforcement, either through legislation or through the courts,” Bowman added.

Sen. Smith's office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

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