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Louisiana Legislature Passes Red Light Camera Bill
Louisiana State Legislature adopts a bill expanding speed cameras in the guise of a bill that limits them.

Senator Derrick Shepherd
The Louisiana House of Representatives yesterday gave final approval to a bill that would dramatically expand the use of red light cameras and speed cameras, but that appeared to be a limitation on their use. Senator Derrick Shepherd (D-Marrero) introduced the measure which simply forbids the application of drivers' license points to red light camera and speed camera tickets. It passed by a vote of 92-5 in the state House and 26-10 in the state Senate. Shepherd explained in a Senate hearing on his measure that his bill was no limitation on any city, because none impose license points.

"Senate Bill 74 is straightforward," Shepherd said. "As we know, there's a proliferation of these red light cameras that are all over and growing. This bill does not try to prohibit that. If the local governing authority wants to have these cameras, they can have them."

Existing Louisiana law bans police agencies from using automated machines to mail traffic citations (R.S. 32:365). If signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal (R), SB74 would undermine that prohibition and be interpreted by the courts as the legislature's approval of photo ticketing as long as citations are treated as civil violations. Photo enforcement companies prefer to issue civil violations because they are easier to process and harder to defend against. When asked what would happen if an innocent vehicle owner received a ticket for an offense that he did not commit, Shepherd explained that his bill would encourage motorists to always pay automated citations.

"The owner has an opportunity to contest that traffic ticket -- of course, good luck to you if you can be successful," Shepherd said. "But you can pay the ticket, and hopefully with this bill and it won't go on your record."

Article Excerpt:
Louisiana State Legislature
Regular Session, 2008 ENROLLED

AN ACT To enact R.S. 32:393(I), relative to motor vehicle traffic regulations; to prohibit traffic violation convictions obtained solely upon evidence from a traffic camera; and to provide for related matters.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana:

Section 1. R.S. 32:393(I) is hereby enacted to read as follows:
393. Persons charged with traffic violations; time for disposition, licenses, reports, and records to be sent to Department of Public Safety and Corrections, fee charged; record of unpaid traffic fines and parking fines

I. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the record of a conviction for a traffic violation which is based solely on evidence from a traffic camera shall not be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections and no record of such conviction shall be made part of any person's driving record.

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