NASHVILLE (WATE) – A Tennessee state representative, already outspoken about his opposition to traffic cameras, turned some heads on social media this week.
Rep. Andy Holt from Dresden posted a live video to his Facebook page showing him burning a folder full of traffic camera citations. Holt has been fighting the cameras, saying they don’t always tell the whole story.
Holt says the cameras are unconstitutional, citing the Sixth Amendment. He said only law enforcement officers should be allowed to issue tickets. Holt also said the tickets are not enforceable and there are no consequences if they go unpaid, even though he says photo enforcement companies use fear and intimidation to force people to pay up.
“Traffic camera companies have been threating [sic] legal and financial action against thousands of Tennessee citizens for years. In fact, to this very day, the Mayor of McKenzie, Tennessee takes to the local paper and regularly tells people that if they don’t pay the tickets, then the city will take them to court and the court will report the debt on their credit report. Well, it would be illegal for the city of McKenzie to do that, so yet again, more coercion and empty threats,” said Holt in a blog post Wednesday.
State law The Tennessee legislature required last session that a disclaimer be included on all traffic camera citations in Tennessee states that traffic camera violations cannot be reported to insurance companies or credit bureaus and do not cause points on your driver’s license.
Some lawmakers say there could still be repercussions for not paying.
Tennessee Representative Bud Hulsey told WJHL, “It says on the disclaimer that it doesn’t (affect your credit score) and on its face it probably doesn’t, but if a city chooses to turn you over to collections to collect that revenue then I suspect there is an unpaid debt that would show up on your credit score.”
Lincoln Memorial University Law Professor Akram Faizer says this does make the tickets unenforceable, but the cameras can still serve a good purpose.
“There is a potentially good reason to have these cameras, which is there is just not enough money – municipalities do not have enough money to have police officers police every intersection,” said Faizer. “Every time you pull someone over contemporaneously for running through a red light, it can lead to a bottleneck of traffic, that in turn can lead to problems.”
More than 300,000 people had viewed Holt’s video as of Thursday afternoon.