For the first time ever, the City of San Antonio is examining the possibility of using cameras to spot traffic violators and mail them tickets, 1200 WOAI news.
A City Council committee on Thursday heard a proposal from Police Chief Bill McManus and Councilman Ray Lopez which would change city law to allow tickets to be mailed to motorists who are spotted by cameras mounted on school busses while illegally passing the bus.
McManus says even though the crime happens frequently, it is a very difficult crime to stop.
"In order for a police officer, a peace officer, to issue a citation, he or she has to witness it," McManus said.
McManus said just 70 citations have been issued for illegally passing a school bus while it's stop-arm is extended in 2013. But he says the crime happens far more frequently than that.
The North East ISD has erected cameras on 268 school busses. During a one day test of the system, the NEISD says it's cameras spotted 598 passing violations, just on one day.
And it is the most expensive ticket in the Texas criminal justice system. In fact, a measure just passed by the Legislature, which takes effect on Sunday, raises the fine for first offense illegal passing of a school bus to an amazing $1250.
That's not 12 dollars and 50 cents...that's 12 hundred and fifty dollars, and those tickets cannot be defeated by taking a safe driving class.
Allowing cameras to nab moving violators would be a huge step for the City. City Manager Sheryl Sculley has long opposed the use of red light cameras to photograph and ticket people who don't stop at red lights, even though other communities, like the suburb of Balcones Heights, have installed the cameras and have discovered that they can be a huge money maker for the city.
That is the main complaint of opponents of camera enforcement. They say the cameras exist to make money for the city, and for the private company that installs and maintains the cameras, and do not enhance highway safety. Independent studies appear to support that claim.
If San Antonio goes along with this proposal, the revenue from the tickets would be split equally among the school district, the city, and the camera company.
In Texas, violations which are captured by camera cannot be criminal violations, which means that if a person does not pay the ticket that is mailed to them, a warrant cannot be issued for the individual's arrest, and the individuals vehicle registration cannot be withheld. But a collection agency can be hired to shake down the motorist to pay the money.