Speed Camera Legal Troubles

Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 6:39pm

There are even more legal troubles for automatic traffic enforcement systems. Some of the devices are under attack by legislators. Whether they’re giving out tickets for speeding or capturing people who run through red lights, traffic enforcement cameras are everywhere. But some say the question isn’t whether they work, but whether they’re legal.

It’s lights, camera, action on the roadways and big brother is watching. “You ease up a little bit ahead, the light flashes, you get caught.” Caught running a red light. So far Baton Rouge has issued more than 30,000 tickets like this one, complete with a $175 fine. Britt Boudreaux, a motorist says, “It showed a picture and then there’s a website that you can go and actually see yourself running it in video and everything.”

Traffic engineers say it’s led to more people stopping to avoid a photo finish and that should mean fewer accidents. Darren Boudroux says it changed my behavior because I know where they’re at and I stop for them. I mean, I stop anyway, but I really stop at those.” Keith LeBlanc agrees, “They work for me, they work for me.”

But while some say the red light cameras are a big safety plus, others say it’s just a violation of your basic rights. Representatives Cedric Richmond and Jeffrey Arnold have written a bill that would ban all automated traffic enforcement cameras. They say the current system violates people’s right to due process. Motorist Dion Hawkins says, “You don’t stand a chance. They’ve got your license plate. What if it was an emergency or something?” It is a picture worth at least a thousand words when it comes to the controversy.

Representative Arnold says a number of other states have already gone to court, facing lawsuits for using cameras that capture speeding or motorists running lights. Here in Louisiana there’s already a civil suit in the works.