HB 679-FN-LOCAL – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 679-FN-LOCAL
SPONSORS: Rep. Bouchard, Merr 11; Rep. Packard, Rock 3; Rep. Graham, Hills 18; Rep. R. L’Heureux, Hills 19; Rep. Ferland, Sull 5; Sen. Larsen, Dist 15; Sen. D’Allesandro, Dist 20; Sen. Roberge, Dist 9
This bill authorizes the electronic enforcement of traffic signal violations.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five
AN ACT authorizing the electronic enforcement of traffic signal violations.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
265:160 Definitions. In this subdivision:
I. “Electronic traffic control monitoring system” means a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors working in conjunction with a traffic control signal to produce recorded images of motor vehicles entering an intersection against a red signal indication.
II. “Enforcement agency” means the law enforcement agency primarily responsible for traffic law enforcement inside the urban compact and on local roads and streets in a city or in any town having a population of more than 20,000, and in all other locations on state highways, the department of safety.
III. “Owner” means any person holding title to a vehicle, the lessee of a motor vehicle under a lease of 6 months or more, or any person having the exclusive right to use a motor vehicle under a written rental agreement for any period of time.
IV. “Recorded image” means an image or images recorded by an electronic traffic control monitoring system on 2 or more photographs, microphotographs, digital photographs, electronic images, videotape, or other image recording medium showing at least the rear of a motor vehicle and on at least one image or portion of the medium clearly identifying the registration plate number of the motor vehicle.
265:161 Traffic Signal Device Violations When Electronically Monitored.
I. The driver of a motor vehicle shall be guilty of a violation and liable for a fine not to exceed $100 plus penalty assessment, if such vehicle is found, as evidenced by information obtained from a traffic control monitoring system authorized by this subdivision, to have disregarded, disobeyed, or failed to comply with a steady or flashing red traffic signal indication installed to control traffic upon a way.
II. Proof of a violation of this section shall be evidenced by information obtained from an electronic traffic control monitoring system authorized under this subdivision. A certificate, sworn to or affirmed by a person employed by the enforcement agency, or a facsimile thereof based upon inspection of recorded images produced by an authorized electronic traffic control monitoring system, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein and shall, along with such recorded images, be available for inspection by the alleged violator or his or her legal representative in any proceeding to adjudicate the liability for such violation pursuant to this subdivision.
III. Prima facie evidence that the vehicle described in a traffic citation issued pursuant to the inspection of such recorded images was driven in violation of a traffic signal, together with proof that the defendant was at the time of such violation the owner of such vehicle, shall constitute a presumption that such person was the person who committed the violation. Such presumption shall be rebutted if the owner of the vehicle testifies under oath in court that he or she was not driving the vehicle at the time of the violation and identifies the individual that had possession of the vehicle at the time of the violation, or files a sworn affidavit with the clerk of the district court to which the citation was returnable that he or she was not the driver of the vehicle at the time alleged and identifies the person that has possession of the vehicle at the time of the violation, or provides a copy of a police report of the unauthorized taking or theft of the vehicle and establishes that the vehicle has not been recovered at the time of the violation. Such presumption shall also be rebutted if the owner of the vehicle provides documentary evidence of a rental agreement, lease, or other contract document covering the vehicle on the date of the violation with the name and address of the renter or lessee clearly legible, at which time the renter or lessee of the vehicle at the time of the violation shall be deemed to be the owner for purposes of this subdivision, and shall be subject to the issuance of a citation.
IV. Persons issued a citation under the provisions of this subdivision shall enter pleas or request court hearing in the manner prescribed in RSA 262:44 and the provisions of said section except that 50 percent of all fines collected by the department of safety or the courts for citations issued by a local law enforcement agency as the result of an electronic traffic control monitoring system shall be remitted to city or town treasurer for deposit in the general funds of such city or town.
V. Citations issued by a state or local law enforcement agency under the provisions of this subdivision shall be sent by regular mail, postmarked no later than 7 days from the time of the alleged violation, to the last known address of the owner of the vehicle or other person identified as the lessee, renter, or driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation and shall indicate a court date no sooner than 30 days from the date of mailing of the citation. The citation shall be accompanied by an advisory notifying the person cited of the date, time, and location of the alleged violation, and give the recipient the name, address, and telephone number where the recipient can request a copy of the photographic evidence of the violation or provide proof satisfactory to the enforcement agency that the owner of the vehicle was not responsible for the violation, in which case the citation shall be withdrawn by the law enforcement agency.
VI. In contested cases, the court may consider in defense of a violation evidence that the driver of the vehicle passed through the intersection against the light in order to yield the right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle or as part of a funeral procession or military convoy, or that the traffic control signal was not in proper position or legible enough to be seen by an ordinarily observant person at the time of the violation, or that the person named in the citation was not driving the vehicle when the violation occurred. To satisfy the court that the person named in the citation was not driving at the time of the violation, the person cited may provide to the court upon appearance satisfactory evidence of the identity of the actual driver including the driver’s name and current address, or a sworn statement containing such information mailed to the court by certified mail prior to the hearing date.
VII. If the court finds that the person cited was not driving the vehicle at the time of the violation or the court received the prescribed sworn statement to that effect, the court shall provide to the enforcement agency that issued the citation a copy of any evidence substantiating who was driving and the agency may issue a new citation to the person the evidence indicates was the driver, provided such new citation is mailed not later than 21 days after receipt of the evidence from the court.
VIII. Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 263:56, II, or other provisions of law to the contrary, the imposition of a fine under this subdivision shall not be deemed a conviction on a driving record and shall not be used to assign demerit points against a driver’s license or in the setting of motor vehicle insurance premium rates.
IX. In any legal action brought as the result of personal injury, death, or damage to property, evidence derived from an electronic traffic control monitoring system is admissible in the same fashion as in the prosecution of an offense established under title XXI.
X. No private entity contracted by a unit of government to operate an electronic traffic control monitoring system may obtain traffic records otherwise protected by state or federal driver license privacy laws, and only an employee of the unit of government or a sworn police officer may swear to or affirm the certification required in paragraph II of this section.
XI. The enforcement agency issuing the citation, and any designee of the enforcement agency, shall maintain the confidentiality of all information acquired in connection with the administration and enforcement of this subdivision, including but not limited to photographs or other images and all personally identifying information obtained relative to the owner of vehicles. Such information shall not be a public record subject to disclosure under RSA 91-A and shall be used solely for enforcement purposes. To the extent that the equipment used in the enforcement of this subdivision is capable of taking a recorded image of the face of a driver, such image shall not be retained by the enforcement agency any longer than is necessary to effectuate the resolution of the citation and the image and any copies thereof shall thereafter be destroyed and a record kept of the date and means of such destruction.
XII. Any electronic traffic control monitoring system installed on a street or highway must be identified by appropriate advance warning signs conspicuously posted not more than 300 feet from the location of the electronic traffic control monitoring system. All advance warning signs shall be consistent with a statewide standard adopted by the department of transportation in conjunction with local governments authorized to install electronic traffic control monitoring systems.
XIII. Municipalities may adopt ordinances for the civil enforcement of RSA 265:10 by means of an electronic traffic control monitoring system.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2006.
HB 679-FN-LOCAL - FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT authorizing the electronic enforcement of traffic signal violations.
The Judicial Branch determined this bill will increase state expenditures and state and local revenue in FY 2006 and each year thereafter. The Department of Safety and Municipal Association determined this bill may increase state, county and local expenditures and state and local revenue in FY 2006 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on county expenditures.
The Judicial Branch stated this bill would add two sections to RSA Chapter 265 to authorize electronic enforcement of traffic signal violations. State or local law enforcement could issue citations by regular mail for traffic signal violations discovered as a result of electronic enforcement. Drivers guilty of such violations could be fined up to $100 plus penalty assessment. Fifty percent of all fine revenue from local law enforcement would go back to the cities and towns. Since identification of vehicles is made by license plates, in many circumstances the named owner who receives the citation may not be the driver. This bill contains provisions for contesting who was the driver both in court and by affidavit in which the defendant identifies who the driver was. The court must forward this information to law enforcement. The bill has the potential for enormous fiscal impact both on the revenue and the expense side. The Judicial Branch has no information on which to estimate how many citations based on electronic enforcement there will be. Some people charged as a result of electronic enforcement will just pay the fine, resulting in no cost to the Judicial Branch since the plea by mail procedure of RSA 262:44 is applicable to these citations. Pleas by mail go directly to and are processed by the Department of Safety. More than the norm, however, will use the district court due to the high percentage of charges which will be filed against individuals who were not driving at the time. For each violation case going through the district court, the Judicial Branch estimates a cost of $59.32. That cost is based on one hour clerical processing time and one half hour judicial and bailiff time. In summary, cases arising as a result of this bill which are pled by mail to the Department of Safety will have no fiscal impact on the Judicial Branch. For the fiscal impact on the revenue side of the cases going through the Judicial Branch, one would need to estimate the number of guilty findings which would result, and multiply that times the amount of the average fine. It should be noted that any fine collections by the
Judicial Branch which go to the state's general fund, do not directly offset Judicial Branch costs. Those costs could be estimated by taking all the cases utilizing the district court as a result of this bill, including those resulting in not guilty findings, and multiply by $59.32 per case. Any fiscal impact to the Judicial Branch will result in increased delays in the processing of other cases.
The Department of Safety stated that some of the additional costs as a result of this bill would be the equipment to record the violation and whatever it takes to transfer the evidence to law enforcement, and postage and supplies to notify the violator, however, the Department cannot estimate the extent of these costs nor whether state, county or local government would be responsible for incurring the costs. In addition, fine revenue and penalty assessments would increase, but because the number of violators cannot be determined, the Department cannot predict how much additional revenue might be collected.
The Municipal Association stated this bill has the potential to increase local revenue by an indeterminable amount. The increased revenue would be offset by the cost of purchasing and maintaining the monitoring systems, and by the cost of prosecuting offenses. Finally, the Association stated since this bill is enabling and not mandatory, any such expenditures would be voluntary on the part of the municipality.