June 11, 2019

New Legislation Places A Ban On Red Light Cameras

On the afternoon of the first day in June, there were changes made to legislation on a controversial topic. Red light cameras have been an intriguing topic for lawmakers since their origin. They have been brought onto the streets, ridiculed, lauded. Overall, they have caused huge changes to driving in Texas. Not all of them are positive though. In fact, the negative stigma has become hard to deny. There are a lot of grey clouds covering this concept but hopefully, it was sorted out properly.

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Governor Abbott Makes It Official

It was a piece of legislation brought forward by Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford). The potential bill, which was backed by nearly 100 lawmakers and co-authors was the House Bill labeled 1631. It regards the legality and prohibition of red light cameras. It was brought into the Texas Senate in mid-May and Governor Abbott had until June 16th to either sign into law or veto it. On June 1st, Governor Abbott made the official, and controversial decision to sign the bill. After passing the Senate on a 23-8 decision, it was clear that the state had made its decision on the matter.

The Illegality Of Red Light Cameras

There have been many cases investigating the validity of red lights in the state of Texas. Particularly in the city of Austin, there have been many incidents where red lights have caused a tremendous backlash. In fact, in the eight years that these traffic cameras have been around, there have been over $5.6 million in citations issued to drivers all over the city. That is an immense number of fines and in some cases, it may not even be their fault. As said by State Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) who was one of the sponsors for the bill:

Red light cameras violate the right to due process guaranteed under Article I of the Constitution by creating a presumption that the registered owner of the car committed a violation when in fact that may not have been the case.

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What Does This Mean For The Future?

Although the bill was passed, and all of the cameras are now deactivated, not all will be removed. There are certain amendments in place that allow the city to keep the cameras up until contracts have run out. This does not mean they will be active, but it is a fact of the new transition. People will still get the justice that is due to them. There are many cases where other people were driving their vehicles and acquired a ticket. In a camera, the driver is not taken into account. It’s only the license plate and therefore the registered owner of the car that gets a citation. Fortunately, this new bill seems to have brought a solution to this problem forward. Hopefully in time, more cases regarding this issue that can be exonerated as a result of their illegitimacy.