Red light traffic camera legislation fine-tuned

Council approved lowering proposed fines for camera-issued red light violations.
WARREN -- In a three-hour work session Monday, city council hammered out a proposed red light traffic camera legislation that seeks to put traffic cameras at the city's most dangerous intersections.
The legislation is due for a third reading at Wednesday's regular city council session.
"This is about safety, first and foremost," said Service/Safety Director William Franklin.
Council members expressed concern about how citations would be issued, who would be responsible to pay, and the amount of fines.
Representatives from Nestor Traffic Systems of Alpharetta, Ga., Redflex Traffic Systems of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Traffipax Traffic Safety Systems of Columbia, Md., answered questions and made suggestions.
The proposed cameras would record the violator's rear license plate. All citations would be issued by the company contracted by city council, but an officer would be appointed to review and approve citations before they are issued. All fines would be the responsibility of the registered owner of the vehicle.
"The vendor sends out the notices. The approving officer, or someone so appointed, only gives the stamp of approval," explained Matthew Sevel, assistant vice president of sales for Nestor Traffic Systems.
Traffic camera infractions
Council changed the proposed fine for camera-issued red light violations from $105 to $85. The original $105 fine is the same as the fine and court costs of a red light violation issued by an officer. No court costs are involved in the camera-issued red light violations, so council agreed to lower the fine; $85 is the fine in other Ohio cities with red light traffic cameras.
Each offense will be $85; council decided against a step system that would increase the fine for multiple offenses.
"There's no other city in the state of Ohio that has escalating fines," said Joe Moore, operations representative for Redflex Traffic Systems.
Penalties will be added to the fine if it is not paid within 30 days of being issued.
"Make it a little painful if they don't pay," said Mark Hammer, vice president of sales for Traffipax Traffic Safety Systems.
Within 30 days of issuance of the ticket, the fine is $85. After 30 days, a $50 penalty is added to the $85 fine. After 60 days, an additional $100 is added, bringing the total to $235. After 90 days, the unpaid citation is referred to a collection agency.
"I'm telling you, it makes you change your driving habits; it really does," said councilman Gary Fonce.
Franklin said there will be a public education campaign if the legislation is approved. He said there will be signs at all intersections that have red light photo enforcement cameras.

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