Lawmakers considering statewide ban on red light cameras

Lawmakers in Austin are considering legislation that would ban red light cameras all over the state.

Some cities already have ordinances that have eliminated those cameras for enforcement.

Some cities have stopped using them. Some counties have said they won't enforce payment of them. And state lawmakers are now taking another look at the arguments from police and drivers.

Kelly Canon's campaign against red light cameras grew out of personal experience with a ticket she received in the mail in 2013.

Since then, Canon helped lead a petition drive to force an election, where voters agreed to remove them in Arlington.

Canon testified against the cameras on Wednesday during a senate transportation committee hearing in Austin. She told lawmakers the citations unfairly punish car owners who receive the tickets by mail rather than directly from an officer.

“It turns the entire constitution backwards,” she said. “You're supposed to have due process of law which means you can face your accuser which in this case is a camera.”

Two senate bills up for debate would prevent the DMV or a county tax assessor from refusing to register a car because the owner didn't pay a red light ticket. The second bill eliminates the authority of local governments to keep red light cameras.

It’s legislation Garland Police Lt. Pedro Barineau told lawmakers would sacrifice driver safety.

“We believe that if the legislature passes this bill, they're telling motorists it's okay to run red lights,” he said.

Garland was the first city in the state to install the cameras more than a decade ago, and Lt. Barineau believes the cameras impact driver behavior in cities where there is photo enforcement.

“When drivers approach an intersection and they're aware of a red light camera, they approach it with extra caution, which means that they're going to slow down and they're going to stop because they don’t want to get a ticket,” he said. “And that saves lives.”

Each red light camera ticket costs $75. Lt. Barineau says the money Garland collects helps pay for other safety initiatives. He said an officer reviews videos of drivers running lights before a citation is sent out.

The senate bills are still pending in the transportation committee. There are identical bills also filed in the Texas house.