State senator takes aim at red light cameras



Posted on January 27, 2010 at 8:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 27 at 9:00 AM

Washington state senator Jim Kastama is taking aim at red light cameras. Kastama wants to make sure they're being used for the right reason, which he says is not money.  He wants to lower the fines.

Many of us have our own red light stories - lots of tickets and lots of money that goes to municipalities.

"You know actually not coming to a full stop. I broke the pedestrian line and I got the ticket in the mail," said one driver.

Red light cameras have been popping up in cities all over Washington and across the country. Why?

"A city council member from Seattle actually referred to these cameras as revenue generators," said Kastama, D-Puyallup.

Kastama thinks the focus of the cameras should be safety first.

"That we don't make money off infractions because then we're going to be selective. We have the potential to selectively enforce those laws where we get revenue and that's a very dangerous precedent to set for any law enforcement," said Kastama.

Kastama is introducing a bill that brings the ticket price down from where it sits now.

"$125 or $180 - that can really hurt a family in my neighborhood. And so when I hear people say you need these big amounts to modify behavior, I'll tell you, my behavior is modified plenty with a $42 ticket," said Kastama.

The state Senate Transportation Committee takes up Kastama's bill today at 3 p.m.  Another bill in the House focuses on the length of the yellow lights.

The issue is gaining a lot of attention. If you do a search on the Internet for red light cameras, you will find a lot of municipalities across the country are considering doing away or modifying the red light camera laws.