Beaufort News

SC House moves to outlaw Ridgeland speed cameras

State lawmakers moved one step closer Wednesday to pulling the plug on Ridgeland's speed cameras on Interstate 95.

The S.C. House of Representatives approved a third and final reading of a bill that would ban the cameras and speeding tickets based on photographic evidence. The House voted 99-1 last week to approve a second reading of the measure, which was approved by the Senate in March.

The legislation will return to the Senate, which must approve an amendment attached to the bill last month by the House Judiciary Committee before it can be sent to Gov. Nikki Haley for her consideration.

The amendment allows law enforcement agencies to take longer than one hour to issue a speeding ticket if a crash occurred and fault cannot be immediately determined, or if the driver at fault is receiving medical treatment and not immediately accessible.

The committee's addition to the bill is unlikely to prevent the Senate from approving the measure before the legislative session ends today , said Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, the bill's sponsor.

"We're going to concur with that amendment," Grooms said. "We've had the Senate lawyers take a look at it, and they say that it's unnecessary. But if they want it in there, we don't have a problem with it. I'm trying not to count my chickens before they hatch, but it looks like this bill will become law by the end of this month."

Haley plans to sign the bill if approved by the Senate, according to her spokesman, Rob Godfrey.

The bill marks the second time in less than a year that state lawmakers have targeted Ridgeland's cameras. With the help of company iTraffic, the town's program began in August, shortly after a law was enacted that bans speed or traffic cameras except in emergencies.

Town officials claim the law applies only to unmanned cameras. Ridgeland's system is attended remotely by a police officer in a nearby RV.

Bill Danzell, iTraffic chairman, said legislators are being shortsighted.

The "South Carolina legislature appears to be choosing in favor of lawbreakers versus law enforcement," Danzell wrote in an email.