Speed Cameras: Understanding the Law

As of 2009, 45 cities across the United States had speed cameras in place to catch drivers that fail to follow the posted speed limit. Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia have laws that permit the use of speed cameras. Speed camera tickets are civil violations, not criminal so there are fewer defenses available to those seeking to challenge these type of tickets.

The use of speed cameras is heavily regulated and laws regarding the use of speed cameras vary by each state. Some states only allow speed cameras to be set up in school or work zones. For example, Maryland only permits the use of speed cameras in highway work zones or within a half-mile radius of schools. Colorado allows speed cameras to be in place in construction zones, school zones, and residential areas or near a municipal park. Penalties also vary by state and in some states like Colorado, fines are doubled if a speed camera catches a speeder in a school zone.

Generally, the registered owner of the vehicle is the person who receives the citation or speeding ticket. Some states allow vehicle owners to defend themselves by arguing that the driver of the car is the one who should be responsible for the ticket. Other states, like New Jersey, hold both the driver and the owner of the vehicle jointly responsible for the speeding ticket. However, some states do not assess any points against the owner or driver. In some states, signs must be posted on the road or highway to inform drivers that speed cameras are in use in certain areas. Under Arizona law, one sign must be in place at least 600 feet away from the cameras and another sign must be posted at least 300 feet away. To find out whether your state or county permits the use of speed cameras, check with the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety or the Governor's Highway Safety Association, both organizations maintain a list of communities that use speed cameras and information regarding speed camera laws in various states.