Friday, January 21, 2011

Private Companies Push for Red Light and Speed Cameras in Indiana, ACS and Others Plan to Profit at the Public's Expense

On Tuesday, this week the Indiana Law Blog discussed a newspaper article dealing with state legislative measures introduced to adopt red light cameras in Indiana.

... The photo enforcement industry is now working overtime to make up for lost ground by expanding operations into states where neither red light cameras nor speed cameras have been well received. Lobbyists are hopeful that Indiana could be the next state to reconsider.

Powerful members of the General Assembly earlier this month introduced legislation to authorize the use of traffic cameras. House Majority Leader William C. Friend (R-Elkhart) introduced House Bill 1199 authorizing the widespread use of speed cameras. Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Merrit (R-Marion County) authored a companion measure, Senate Bill 527, legalizing red light cameras. Photo ticketing vendor Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) has given lawmakers $51,650 with most of the funds directed to the House and Senate Republican campaign committees and Republican Governor Mitch Daniels. Democrats have also gotten in on the action. In October, Arizona-based camera company American Traffic Solutions gave state Representative Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) $1000. State Representative Shelli VanDenburgh (D-Lake County) cosponsored the speed camera bill.

This legislation allows the state highway department to lower the speed limit on a
freeway or a locality to designate a "work zone" where a photo radar device would be set up to issue tickets worth $300 for a first offense to $1000 for a third. The systems could also be used in school zones during times when class is in session. Tickets would be mailed within six business days of the alleged violation and notice must be sent by certified mail.

The Senate red light camera bill gives the private company up to sixty days to drop the $150 ticket into a regular mail box. The state government would take a thirty percent share of the net profit from citations issued by municipalities and would suspend the registration of any vehicle owner that did not receive or respond to a ticket. The measure also repeals the definition of "official traffic control devices" under Indiana law, allowing private corporations to regulate traffic instead of the "authority of a public body."
Folks, our elected officials are at it again. Just like with the Indianapolis parking meter deal, private companies, like ACS, give money to elected officials, while hiring the right insiders and law firms, and suddenly our elected officials are all but too happy to introduce legislation to help the private companies get at our wallets.

What's next? Are we also going to have the private company running the court that decides these red light and speeding camera tickets? The proposed gadgets are nothing more than a way for government to raise money while giving our private dollars to a politically-connected company.

If you want to know what it's like dealing with private companies handling traffic enforcement duties, take a look at the video Had Enough Indy? posted about the Chicago motorist who received a parking ticket while talking with a reporter about the privatized parking meter operation in that city.


Citizen Kane said...

And what prevents them from issuing fraudulent tickets to juice revenue?

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm sure absolutely nothing.

I'm not sure how they get around the requirement in Indiana that, with a moving violation, there has to be an in court identification of the driver. I guess they'd be changing that law too. That is yet another reason this proposal needs to be rejected.