Bill amending speed camera program passes House

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A bill amending Providence’s speed camera program passed in the House Thursday.

The bill, created by Rep. Bob Craven, amends the authorization for municipalities to use speed cameras in school zones. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Craven’s bill mandates more signage for the speed cameras and it would change the initial violation ticket cost from $95 to $50 for each offense. The violations would also be expunged from court records every three years from the date of the motorist’s first offense and violations under the act cannot be reflected on a person’s driving record.

Providence has come under from state lawmakers for issuing more than 12,000 $95 speedingtickets during the first 33 days of its speed camera program, which launched in January. A Municipal Court judge ended up dismissing dozens of violations because of errors on the printed tickets.

Rhode Island lawmakers first approved speed cameras in 2016 when they passed the Automated School-Zone-Speed-Enforcement System Act permitting municipalities to install them within a quarter-mile of any type of school. Providence is the only city has installed the cameras, although Mayor Jorge Elorza has predicted that they will eventually be used across the state.

“Everyone wants to protect our children, family members and pedestrians from flagrant speeders in school zones,” Craven said. “Although well-intentioned, the initial speed camera act was implemented inappropriately and it lead to confusion and outrage from the public, especially concerning the unexpected and high-cost violation fines.”

The legislation also changes the times in which the speed cameras would be operational, now from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the cameras would only be in operation during days that the corresponding school is in session. Previously, the cameras were operational from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

“This amendment will continue to protect everyone around school zones while also providing the proper notice and fairer violation fines for motorists,” Craven said.

Dan McGowan contributed to this report.

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