May 14, 2012 Senator Michael Doherty (R-23) has introduced legislation that would ban municipalities from using camera systems which detect violations of traffic control signals and automate the process of issuing tickets to drivers.
“Although red light cameras were sold to the public as a way to make dangerous intersections safer, it’s become clear that municipalities are primarily interested in the revenues generated by the cameras through tickets and fines,” said Doherty. “There is little if any evidence that the use of red light cameras in New Jersey has reduced the number or severity of accidents at the intersections where they are used. When combined with serious questions regarding personal privacy and the process and constitutionality of being ticketed by a machine, I believe it’s time that we put this ill-conceived red light camera experiment to rest.”
The legislation prevents municipalities that do not currently use red light cameras from employing the systems, and would prohibit municipalities that already use the systems from renewing contracts with the vendors that operate and maintain them. Additionally, the bill removes the provision from current law that provides law enforcement with a 90-day time frame to issue tickets for violations of traffic control devices, including those generated by red light camera systems.
“It’s nearly impossible to challenge a ticket generated by a red light camera when it arrives in the mail weeks or even months after an alleged violation,” said Doherty. “When a police officer pulls you over, you have the opportunity to talk to the officer to explain why a ticket should not be issued or to make notes to challenge a ticket while the situation is still fresh in your mind. You don’t have those options with a camera. Who really remembers the exact details of one specific instance of passing through an intersection when an automatically generated ticket arrives in the mail 90 days later?”
Doherty noted that at least nine states have banned the use of automated red light camera ticketing systems due to privacy and constitutional concerns. Additionally, a number of local governments across the county that have employed cameras and automated ticketing systems have scrapped the cameras due to their ineffectiveness.
“People question the propriety of having governments and unaccountable vendors taking photos and videos of them and recording their location as they go about their lives,” said Doherty. “People should be free to travel without worrying that their every move is being tracked in a database somewhere. These systems represent a further encroachment of our civil liberties, all to help local politicians keep spending. It’s time to say enough’s enough and pull the plug on red light cameras.”