A bill that would broaden local authority in Virginia to use cameras for the enforcement of red-light laws got a boost yesterday when it passed a House of Delegates committee that is often hostile to such regulations.
The Bill: House Bill 1696, sponsored by Del. Michele B. McQuigg (R-Prince William), would authorize the governing body of any county, city or town to set up a photo-monitoring system at no more than 25 intersections at a time and impose fines on drivers who run the lights. The camera systems cannot be used for the sole purpose of generating revenue.
What's Next?: The bill was approved yesterday by a vote of 12 to 10 in the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety, but before it can go to Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) for signature, it must pass on the floor of the House and also win approval in the state Senate.
In the Region: Scores of intersections in the District, Maryland and Virginia are monitored by law enforcement cameras. The program has been slow to expand in Virginia because of resistance in the state government.
Pros and Cons: Proponents note that red-light running accounts for more than 250,000 crashes and more than 800 deaths nationwide each year. Opponents say that some governments use them to raise money, through the fines, and that cameras are an intrusion on the constitutionally protected right to privacy.