VA House of Delegates Throw Out Red-Light Cameras Bill

The Virginia government will not be placing red-light cameras at heavy traffic areas after the House of Delegates threw out the bills in Monday’s committee meeting.
The red-light camera is a device used to automatically snap photos of vehicle’s back license plates identification number when the vehicle goes through a red light. The photo is then mailed to the accused along with a fine.

Red-light cameras are currently allowed in six Northern Virginia regions: Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church and Vienna, as well as Arlington and Fairfax counties.

Red-light camera bills that are in effect this year will expire on July 1, 2005 in spite of opposition in the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-Fairfax), a sponsor of the bills, said she and others would resubmit legislation that would give jurisdiction in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads the ability to use the technology. She also suggested that she would be able to gain the necessary support from the committee. 

“I will be redrafting a bill to bring back in the 2005 session, and I think you’ll see others will do the same,” she told the committee.

She said in an interview that she had gotten commitment of support from members of the panel.

Virginia is one of 14 states that allow them [the cameras] in some capacity, as does the District, according to the Washington Post.  But unlike the Old Dominion, the District and Maryland have embraced the technology as an efficient way to reduce accidents and congestion, despite some complaints in both jurisdictions over how the cameras are used and who benefits from them.

Although these cameras are favored by law enforcement officials for safety reasons, legislators are concerned with privacy advocates who claim the cameras are intrusive and unfair.

Residents who live in less-congested, rural areas such as Southside and

Southwest Virginia agree that the cameras are an invasion of motorists’ privacy.

“I will fight it every step of the way,” said Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) as he left Monday’s meeting. “Slowly over time you give way too much liberty.”

Griffith in agreement with other opponents said there are other ways to crack down on motorists who run red lights without eroding Virginians’ right to privacy.

More than 70 percent of motorists in AAA’s Virginia survey support use of the cameras, reported the Washington Post.  But many opponents say there are alternatives that are just as effective, such as extending the length of yellow lights and placing unmanned polices cars at intersections to slow motorists.