Dear NMA Michigan Supporters,
Michigan state representatives have introduced two bills that would allow the issuance of speeding tickets by automated machines.
These are the first such bills in a dozen years. Attempts to legalize tickets by mail have always been rejected in Michigan. Still, it takes continued opposition by motorists to resist city governments, camera vendors, and insurance companies who will profit from the scheme.
TWO SPEED-CAMERA BILLS
HB 5272 would allow automated speeding tickets in work zones only when workers are present. A companion bill, HB 5286, would require work-zone speed-limit signs to show flashing lights when workers are present. These bills have 12 co-sponsors, nine Republicans and three Democrats, from all parts of the state. This bipartisan, distributed support indicates an organized effort by camera vendors and construction unions. This bill may be hard to stop, but its effect is limited.
HB 5284 would allow automated speeding tickets on any road, any time. This bill has seven co-sponsors—six Democrats and one Republican—indicating weaker support than the work-zone bill. Most sponsors represent suburban cities with histories of aggressive ticketing. The bill is thought to have originated with House Democrats and city governments, helped by camera vendors.
Both bills use similar language. Cameras could be put up by the state, counties, or cities, but only on their own roads. Local governments could not install cameras on state highways.
The vehicle registrant would be presumed to be the driver. If someone other than the owner was driving, the owner would not be required to identify the driver. Tickets would be issued to “individual” owners; it is unclear how corporate-owned vehicles would be treated, including trucks. Citations would be sent by first-class mail. If unanswered, a delivery receipt would be requested. If still unanswered, the citation would be personally served, and if the driver does not appear, an arrest warrant might be issued. It is unclear if drivers could ignore mailed citations until a process server finds them.
Unlike automated tickets in most other states, camera tickets would be treated as normal speeding violations, not as lesser offenses. Standard fines and points would apply. We presume convictions will appear on driving records, where they will be visible to insurers and employers.
The bills could be combined and could change at any time once they are taken up.
NMA will keep you informed of events. The bills could move fast once since they have been taken up in committee, so we won’t wait to take the first steps.
WHAT TO DO
Tell your state legislators what you think if you don’t want speeding tickets to appear in your mail.
Compose an original letter on paper or by e-mail. Please keep it to 3 or 4 short paragraphs on the issues important to you.
If your representative is one of the seven sponsors of HB 5284, politely express your surprise and disappointment. If they are one of the other 103 representatives, urge them to oppose HB 5284. In a letter to your state senator, tell them that you hope they will oppose the bill if it reaches the Senate.
Here are some points you might make in your own words:
- Tell your legislators that ticket cameras are not a safety program but a scheme to take money from Michigan families. Cities will drive speed limits ever lower and reduce the tolerance of the radar to generate as much money as they want. If your legislators have taken an anti-tax posture, remind them that this is taxation by citation.
- Point out that there is no easy way to fight a questionable radar ticket. Drivers receiving a ticket from a distant city weeks after the event can’t collect evidence of faulty speed measurement, as from a misaimed radar or a reflection off a big truck. Remind them that robot tickets deprive citizens of a fundamental Constitutional right: the ability to confront an accuser in court.
- HB 5284 is just the opening round. Speed cameras will be followed by automated enforcement of right-turn-on-red stops, stop signs, and almost every other traffic sign. Every unneeded stop sign and too-short yellow light could be a money-maker for local governments.
- Tell them that camera use discourages traffic and trade. Local businesses will be unintended casualties as shoppers and diners avoid ticket-happy places. Tourists will come home from Michigan vacations to find tickets from towns along the way, and they won’t be back.
- Convictions for camera tickets will appear on our driving records, driving up insurance premiums. This will undo the recent auto-insurance reform. Premiums may rise by hundreds of dollars a year, contributing to uninsured driving by persons unable to afford coverage.
- Michigan is in the middle of a historic criminal-justice reform, reducing the number of drivers with unaffordable fine debt and suspended licenses. This bill will bring that problem back by enabling hundreds of thousands of more tickets at $135 apiece.
Close your letter by asking for a return letter pledging opposition. Tell legislators that their position will affect your vote in the coming 2022 primary election and that you will be asking all candidates for their positions. (Politicians are much more worried about opposition in primaries than in fall general elections, and they will be skittish about offending primary voters after 2022 redistricting.)
You can call your legislator’s office and ask the staffer who answers the representative’s position on HB 5284. Be polite, and use the phone call to educate the staff about speed law. Young staffers may know nothing about automated ticketing and appreciate knowing that some voters deeply object to it.
Another important thing to do is send this email to all your family and friends that live in Michigan and ask them to help stop this camera nonsense.
These bills may get committee hearings this fall. This summer, if your legislators hold in-district meetings or open houses, stop in and talk about tickets by mail.
HELP WANTED NEEDED
We will be facing the latest ticket-camera campaign without Jim Walker, the NMA researcher and lobbyist who effectively reformed Michigan speed law in 2005 and 2016. Jim passed away two years ago. He worked closely with legislative committees, the Michigan State Police, and the media.
We need to find the next NMA Michigan spokesperson. This could be you, if you’ve got a feel for politics, and if you can—
- Travel on short notice to Lansing to testify at legislative hearings.
- Debate calmly with hostile politicians and opposition lobbyists.
- Talk clearly and colorfully with media reporters.
- Write cogently on motorist issues for publication.
If you think you can help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the NMA headquarters at [email protected], and we’ll put you in touch with other activists in Michigan to plan a course of action.
Thank you for your support of motorists’ rights issues in Michigan!