Pre-filed bills in state legislature take aim at traffic camera tickets

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 25, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 25 at 7:12 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS-- Red light and speeding cameras dot the traffic landscape of New Orleans and other municipalities. Those cameras, though, are now in the target sights of several area lawmakers.

"I've got two bills," said State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.

Sen. Morrell said the first bill involves stopping traffic court tickets from getting reported to credit agencies.

"We certainly don't want someone who can't afford to pay a traffic ticket to being unable to buy a house because their credit score is unduly affected," he said. "Although I believe we should give the city every tool available to collect any fines that are due, this one seems like a very large stick to be using on people over something that is a very controversial program."

The second bill would give traffic court appellate jurisdiction and allow drivers to appeal the traffic camera ticket at no cost.

"This just gives anyone who feels they were unduly rushed through the process, an ability to get a second opinion, so to speak, as to whether or not they should have to pay that fine," Sen. Morrell said.
 
Drivers like Paulette Lizano welcomed the idea of an easier appeal. She said she received a ticket for going two miles over the speed limit.

"I would love that because to my knowledge, I have a pretty clean driving record and to get a ticket for two miles over is kind of ridiculous," she said.

State Senator Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, also pre-filed a bill related to the red light cameras. It calls for voters to approve such traffic camera systems, before they can be installed.

Yet some drivers want to take it a step further and ban the cameras altogether. Michelle Currier started an online petition for just that.

"I want them to go away, obviously-- me and a lot of other people," she said. "There's got to be a different way, like post that you're going too fast."

Eyewitness News contacted the city for comment on the proposed bills. A spokesperson said no one was available for an interview, but sent a statement, which said, "The photo safety camera program was designed to reduce red light running and speeding, particularly near school zones. It has been largely successful on those fronts."

Whether any changes come to traffic camera tickets will become clearer when the legislative session gets underway on March 12.

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