South Carolina House Votes To Ban Speed Cameras

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
south carolina house votes to ban speed cameras

The South Carolina House of Representatives voted Thursday to make the state’s ban on photo radar explicit. In 2006, the office of the attorney general issued an opinion stating automated ticketing conflicted with state law, but Ridgeland officials decided to ignore the ruling and operate a speed camera van on Interstate 95. The town of 2500 wants to deploy cameras to ticket out-of-state drivers as they pass through the seven-mile stretch within the town’s limits.

“We don’t need anyone’s approval to enforce the law in Ridgeland,” Mayor Gary W Hodges wrote in response to a local newspaper article. “The Gazette/Packet even pointed out that there is a ‘very high probability on I-95’ that some drivers who get tickets will be from out of state. Ya think? Believe it or not, we already knew this!”

Hodges entered into a five-year contract with iTraffic, a private company that offered to set up the system and do all the work in return for a cut of the profit generated. Bill Danzell set up iTraffic after his previous photo enforcement venture, Nestor Traffic Systems, went bankrupt. In neighboring Beaufort County, the local sheriff sought four years ago to obtain approval for a speed camera system, but was shot down by the state’s top law enforcement official ( view opinion).

“It appears that there would be a conflict between the proposed ordinance and the state law prohibiting speeding in that there would be no criminal violation tracked or points assessed against the driver but, instead, there would be a civil penalty imposed,” the attorney general’s office ruled. “As to your question of whether it would be legal for a law enforcement agency to send citations to a registered owner by certified mail, no state law authorizes the use of such process.”

Lawmakers angered by Ridgeland’s defiance unanimously adopted an amendment offered by state Representative J Todd Rutherford (D-Richland County) that explicitly bans use of photo enforcement.

“Only when an emergency is declared which triggers the provisions of this section may speed or traffic cameras be used,” House Bill 1298 states. “A person who receives a ticket pursuant to a violation of traffic laws captured on speed or traffic cameras must be served in person with notice of the violation. Revenue collected pursuant to a violation of this section must be deposited in the general fund.”

The underlying bill contains a provision allowing golf carts to be driven on secondary roads near one’s home during emergencies declared by the governor or president. The provisions regarding service and sending all revenue to the state are designed to remove the financial incentive of localities to set up such a program, even in the event of an emergency.

The legislation would have to be approved by the state Senate before being sent to Governor Mark Sanford (R) for his signature. A copy of the bill is available in a 20k PDF file at the source link below.

House Bill 1298 (South Carolina Legislature, 5/27/2010)


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  • Japanese Buick Japanese Buick on Jun 01, 2010

    Good for South Carolina. Their highway patrol has proven they can be very efficient issuing tickets in person (it's the only state where I've seen one trooper pull over 5 or more cars in a single stop, it is a sight to see!) so the cameras are not necessary.

    • Cstoc Cstoc on Jun 01, 2010

      I've seen the CHP do the same on I-5 near Lake Shasta. And one time the officer was going the wrong direction, crossed the median, then pulled over 5 cars.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jun 01, 2010

    I'm no expert, but I did work as a highway engineer for 27 years, and in all projects involving interstates, the only involvement of local entities is a cooperative agreement for construction of the interstate itself. Federal law gives the state the exclusive power over traffic enforcement. Ridgeland has no jurisdiction over traffic on the interstate, except in the rare case of a local police officer responding to an emergency situation. In that case, his limited authority ends when state enforcement arrives. The response of others states to tickets is another issue. Your license and/or registration could be impacted by out of state tickets, so a letter to your state motor vehicle department should be sent if you get an out of state ticket. I'd include a letter to my state representatives, the FHWA and the governor in this case, to ensure that they know there's a dispute between the ticket issuer and the state over enforcement methods and jurisdiction. I expect this kind of out of state issue to end up with the FHWA, federal courts and Congress for resolution, since the Constitution, with the interstate commerce clause, requires federal intervention.

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