New law standardizing traffic camera rules passes House committee

James Q. Lynch
Published: March 1 2011 | 3:24 pm - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 12:20 pm in
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A House committee unanimously approved legislation creating uniform rules for the use of red light cameras and speed cameras by Iowa cities.

The goal of House Study Bill 93 is consistency from town to town, floor manager Rep. Ralph Watts, R-Adel, told the House Transportation Committee.

Five Iowa communities — Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, Clive and Council Bluffs — use the cameras now.

“It’s obvious that automated traffic enforcement systems are all over the board all over the state,” he said. “This is just an attempt to bring some consistency to their use, how it’s enforced and fines are levied.”

HSB 93 caps the civil citation for running a red light at $50 and establishes a sliding scale of civil penalties for speeding when motorists’ traffic transgressions are caught on camera. Those penalties would match fines in state law without any administrative costs or court costs.

In addition to making the penalties uniform, the bill requires signs advising motorists of the presence of cameras that are consistent with signs used for other traffic enforcement. Signs would be required when mobile speed cameras are used by law enforcement agencies, he said.

There was some discussion about the $50 cap on red light violations. Cedar Rapids now charges $100 and some committee members wanted a higher fine.

Rep. Janet Peterson, D-Des Moines, pointed out that at $50, more than half of the penalty would be paid to the vendor that provides the cameras and processes the citations.

“We should consider whether a $50 flat fee is right because it’s hard to come back and change it,” Peterson said.

An amendment approved by the committee would require a peace officer review all recorded images to make sure a violation occurred. The officer would have to sign an affidavit confirming it has been reviewed and that all equipment was in proper working condition.

Senate Transportations Committee Chairman Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, has indicated he’s likely to take up the bill if it is approved by the House.

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