Beaufort News

SC Rep. Patrick taps brakes on state speed camera ban

A vote on a bill that would outlaw Ridgeland's use of automated speed cameras on Interstate 95 was delayed this week by state Rep. Andy Patrick.

However, the Hilton Head Island Republican says he probably will support the measure if it comes to a vote.

Patrick used House rules to postpone the second reading and possible debate on a bill introduced by Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, to ban speeding tickets based in any way on photographic evidence.

The bill, S. 336, passed the Senate in March and was approved Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee, according to legislative records.

Patrick said he requested a 24-hour delay on the legislation to give his colleagues more time to weigh the possible downsides of a statewide ban on automated traffic enforcement.

"I fear we may be throwing the baby out with the bath water because someone thumbed his nose at the General Assembly," Patrick said. "As it's written now, I'm probably going to vote in favor of (Grooms' bill), but I'd like to see it tweaked such that it can include and address some of the issues I have."

Grooms introduced the bill after Ridgeland officials worked with the company iTraffic to deploy the cameras in August, despite a law passed last year outlawing speed or traffic cameras except in emergencies.

Patrick and two other members of Beaufort County's House delegation -- Reps. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, and Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort -- introduced legislation earlier this year supporting the cameras. That bill has been stalled in the Judiciary Committee.

Patrick said he has always objected to "some elements" of Ridgeland's program but thinks the cameras could be used by state law enforcement.

"I would like to see the technology deployed through the S.C. Highway Patrol," Patrick said. "I don't support municipalities being able to use this technology or want a private company to have as much involvement in how the technology is deployed as iTraffic appears to have in Ridgeland."

The bill could come to a floor vote when the House reconvenes Tuesday, Patrick said.