South Carolina: Renegade Photo Speed Trap in Jeopardy

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
south carolina renegade photo speed trap in jeopardy

Reports from residents suggest Ridgeland, South Carolina is ready to concede defeat regarding the freeway speed camera system operated in defiance of state law. The large recreational vehicle used to mail tickets to travelers passing through the town’s seven-mile stretch of Interstate 95 is no longer as visible as it once was. Under attack in both the state legislature and the courts, Mayor Gary W. Hodges has yet to officially announce the end of his controversial ticketing program.

The state House last week voted 92-0 to approve Senate Bill 336, which reaffirms the ban on automated ticketing machines that was enacted one year ago ( view law). The bill had previously passed the Senate 40-0 in March, but because House members added an amendment, the measure returned for a final Senate vote. There, state Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) introduced another amendment designed to knock the bill off the consent calendar and run out the clock on the last day of session. Sheheen is the recipient of $1000 in campaign donations from iTraffic, the company that runs Ridgeland’s camera program.

Despite the setback, the legislature returns in a special session Tuesday where the ban’s Senate proponents will attempt final passage. Even if that fails, camera opponents will almost certainly hit Ridgeland in the wallet. The current version of the state budget bill includes language that would effectively confiscate any revenue generated by Ridgeland’s camera system. The budget will come to a final vote next week.

“Speed Camera Restriction: No political subdivision of this state shall collect any fines, fees or costs which result from the issuance of uniform traffic citations or any other form of traffic citation that is based or has relied on camera assisted evidence,” section 86.10 of H. 3700 states. “Any municipality which fails to comply with this provision during the Fiscal Year 2011-12 shall have its Fiscal Year 2011-12 distribution from the Local Government Fund under the State Aid to Subdivisions Act reduced by an amount equal to the amount of fines, fees or costs collected by the political subdivision through the issuance of camera assisted traffic citations.”

On May 27, attorney Pete Strom renewed his class action legal assault on Ridgeland with a revised filing meant to address deficiencies identified by US District Court Judge Sol Blatt. Strom renewed the charge that Ridgeland and iTraffic were engaged in racketeering.

“Defendants conspired to attempt to serve alleged violators of the municipal ordinance by direct mail and outside of their respective jurisdiction,” Strom wrote. “In furtherance of the conspiracy, defendants committed numerous predicate acts, including but not limited to mail fraud and wire fraud. As such, Defendants have violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”

The case is ongoing.


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4 of 6 comments
  • CarPerson CarPerson on Jun 10, 2011

    I would give anything to run that rig over the scales, get the weight for each axle end, the compare it to the vehicle weight rating. Just by looking at it I am skeptical it was built on the proper chassis. If not, the vehicle license gets pulled on the spot.

  • MidLifeCelica MidLifeCelica on Jun 10, 2011

    "In other news, an illegal photo ticketing vehicle spontaneously burst into flames overnight. Fire crews were slow to respond, possibly due to the large number of tickets that had been issued to members of the volunteer fire department over the last 6 months. Mayor Gary W. Hodges is reportedly 'hopping mad'".

    • Cdrmike Cdrmike on Jun 13, 2011

      Sheriff Roscoe P. Coletrain was last seen headed to the catfish pond, for a much needed day off.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys for that money, it had better be built by people listening to ABBA
  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?