Relating to automated traffic enforcement systems; to provide that the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency give approval to a municipality before a municipality is authorized to use automated traffic enforcement systems; to provide for the issuance of notices of violations by municipalities; to provide for civil fines, late fees, and court costs for violations, and to provide for distribution of the fines, fees, and court costs; to provide for adjudication hearings by municipal courts in contested cases; to provide for appeals from municipal courts to circuit courts; and to provide that a violation is not a criminal conviction.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Alabama Automated Traffic Enforcement Safety Act.
As used in this act, the following terms shall have the following meanings: (1) ALEA. The Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency. (2) AUTOMATED TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT SYSTEM. A camera system which is designed to record violations of traffic safety laws and which may work in conjunction with a traffic-control device using vehicle sensors synchronized to record, either by conventional film or digital imaging, sequenced photographs, or full motion video of the rear of a motor vehicle failing to obey a traffic-control device, or in conjunction with a speed detection device synchronized to record digital imaging of a motor vehicle while speeding. The system shall be capable of producing at least two recorded images, at least one of which is capable of clearly depicting the license plate of a motor vehicle that is in violation of the traffic law. (3) CIVIL FINE. The monetary amount assessed by a municipality pursuant to this act for an adjudication of civil liability for a traffic violation. (4) COMMISSION. The Alabama Justice Information Commission. (5) MUNICIPALITY. An incorporated city or town within this state governed by an elected council. (6) NLETS. Network provider for exchange of criminal justice information among multiple state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies. (7) OWNER. The owner of a motor vehicle as shown on the motor vehicle registration records of the Alabama Department of Revenue or the analogous department or an agency of another state or country. The term does not include any of the following: a. A motor vehicle rental or leasing company when a motor vehicle registered by the company is rented or leased to another person, in which event "owner" means the person who rented or leased the vehicle. b. Vehicles displaying dealer license plates, in which event "owner" means the person to whom the vehicle is assigned for use. c. The owner of any stolen motor vehicle, in which event "owner" means the person who is guilty of stealing the motor vehicle. (8) SPEEDING VIOLATION or VIOLATION. Any violation of a motor vehicle at a speed that exceeds the legal maximum speed limits presented in or adopted pursuant to Article 8, Chapter 5A, Title 32, Sections 32-5A-170 to 32-5A-178, inclusive, Code of Alabama 1975; provided, however, that speed limits set by action of the respective municipal council shall supersede the limits set in Article 8, Chapter 5A, Title 32, Sections 32-5A-170 to 32-5A-178, inclusive, Code of Alabama 1975. For the purposes of this subdivision, a speeding violation is a civil violation as defined in this act. (9) TRAFFIC-CONTROL DEVICE. All signs, signals, markings, and devices erected for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic as defined in Section 32-1-1.1, Code of Alabama 1975. (10) TRAFFIC-CONTROL DEVICE VIOLATION or VIOLATION. Any violation of Section 32-5A-31, 32-5A-32, or 32-5A-35, Code of Alabama 1975, or of any combination thereof. For purposes of this subdivision, a traffic-control device violation is a civil violation as defined in this act. (11) TRAINED TECHNICIAN. A sworn law enforcement officer employed by the municipality, who either: a. Is a professional engineer in the field of civil engineering. b. Has received instruction and training in the proper use of the automated traffic enforcement systems to be used by the municipality's traffic engineer or his or her designee. c. Has been trained by the vendor installing the equipment.
(a) Prior to implementing an automated traffic enforcement system, a municipality shall submit an implementation plan to the commission for approval. (b) Once the implementation plan is approved by the commission, a municipality may implement an automated traffic enforcement system within its corporate limits. (c) The commission may deny a proposed plan or suspend a previously approved plan if the commission determines the plan may cause, or is causing, an unforeseen danger, is demonstrably implemented with racial bias, or fails to achieve safer driving environments. (d) The commission, through ALEA, shall periodically audit any municipality that has been approved and implemented an automated traffic enforcement system. If the audit determines that a municipality is not fully abiding by the law or rules set forth by the commission, the commission may suspend the authority of the municipality to operate an automated traffic enforcement system until the municipality is in full compliance with this act. (e) The commission shall annually provide a summary report to the Legislature on the automated traffic enforcement systems within Alabama. (f) The commission shall adopt rules for the submission of plans, the approval process, and the suspension of authority to a municipality for not abiding by the law or rules of the commission in accordance with this act. The commission shall also adopt rules for the collection, retention, use, security, and privacy of the data collected by the systems in accordance with the authority of the commission as provided in Section 41-9-590 et. al, Code of Alabama 1975.
(a) Once an implementation plan has been approved by the commission, a municipality may provide by ordinance, for the establishment of automated traffic enforcement systems imposing a civil fine for a speeding violation or traffic-control device violation. (b) A civil fine assessed under this act may not exceed one hundred ten dollars ($110) and court costs may only be assessed in contested cases. If applicable, court costs shall be assessed and distributed in the same manner and in the same amounts as prescribed by law for misdemeanor violations. Ten dollars ($10) of the fine shall be paid to ALEA, after the municipal court has received payment of the fine. The Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency shall deposit the ten dollars ($10) in the State Treasury to the credit of the Public Safety Fund as compensation for record keeping, transaction processing with respect to violation notices issued under this act, technology costs, and other expenses that may occur related to the oversight of the commission. (c) An owner who fails to timely pay a civil fine pursuant to this act shall be subject to a late payment penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25) in addition to the original violation fine. (d) If an ordinance is adopted for automated traffic enforcement related to speeding, the ordinance may only apply in the following locations within the corporate limits of the municipality: (1) School zones. (2) Road or highway construction zones or areas. (3) Residential neighborhoods. (e) If an ordinance is adopted for automated traffic enforcement of a traffic-control device violation, the devices may be placed at any location within the municipality that the council finds is dangerous and which would improve the safety of drivers from an enforcement system at the location. The municipality shall post a sign or signs at each location where a device is located informing motorists that an automated traffic enforcement system is in operation at the location. (f) Prior to operating the initial automated traffic enforcement system, a municipality shall make a public announcement and conduct a public awareness campaign for a minimum of 30 days before issuing violation notices.
(a) An owner shall be liable for the civil fine imposed pursuant to this section if a driver of the motor vehicle commits a speeding violation or traffic-control device violation as evidenced by recorded images produced by an automated traffic enforcement system. (b) In order to impose a civil fine pursuant to this section, a municipality shall mail a notice of the violation by first class U.S. mail to the owner of the motor vehicle liable for the civil fine. The notice shall be sent within 30 days of the violation. The notice shall be sent to either of the following: (1) The owner's address as shown on the registration records of the Department of Revenue. (2) If the vehicle is registered in another state or country, to the owner's address as shown on the motor vehicle registration records of the department or agency of the other state or country analogous to the Department of Revenue. (c) A notice of violation shall contain all of the following: (1) Description of the violation alleged. (2) The date, time, and location of the violation. (3) A copy of two recorded images of the vehicle involved in the violation. (4) The amount of the civil fine to be imposed for the violation. (5) A statement that the civil fine must be paid within 60 days of the violation. (6) A statement that failure to pay the civil fine within the time allowed will result in a late penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25). (7) Information that informs an owner that he or she may contest the imposition of the civil fine by requesting an adjudicative hearing. This shall include all of the following: a. The manner and time in which to contest the imposition of the civil fine. b. That the failure to pay the civil fine or to contest liability is an admission of liability. c. That if a violation is contested, court costs will be imposed if there is a finding of liability. (8) A statement that the person named in the notice of violation may pay the civil penalty in lieu of appearing at an adjudicative hearing. (9) A statement that a recorded image is evidence in a proceeding for the imposition of a civil fine. (10) Any other information deemed necessary by the municipality. (d) A notice of violation is presumed to have been received on the 10th day after the date the notice of violation is placed in the U.S. mail. (e)(1) It shall be within the discretion of the trained technician to determine which of the recorded traffic violations are prosecuted based upon the quality and legibility of the recorded image. In lieu of issuing a notice of violation, the municipality may mail a warning notice to the owner. (2) Under no circumstances shall the salary or other compensation of the trained technician be related to the number of notices of violation issued or amount of fines collected.
(a) An owner who receives a notice of violation pursuant to this act may request an adjudicative hearing to contest the imposition of the civil fine. A request for an adjudicative hearing shall be made in writing and mailed to the municipal court within 45 days of the violation. Upon receipt of a timely request, the municipality shall notify the person, by U.S. mail, of the date and time of the adjudicative hearing. (b) Failure to contest liability in a timely manner is an admission of liability and a waiver of the right to an appeal under Section 7. (c) The municipal court may hear and decide any civil violations provided for in this act. (d) In an adjudicative hearing, the municipality shall have the burden of proving the violation by a preponderance of the evidence. (e) The reliability of the automated traffic enforcement system used to produce the recorded image of the violation may be attested to by an affidavit of a trained technician. An affidavit of a trained technician that alleges a violation based on an inspection of the pertinent recorded image or video is admissible in a proceeding under this act and is evidence of the facts contained in the affidavit. (f) The notice of violation, the recorded and reproduced images of the violation, regardless of the media on which they are recorded, accompanied by a certification of authenticity of a trained technician, and evidence of ownership of a vehicle as shown by copies or summaries of official records shall be admissible into evidence without foundation unless the municipal court finds there is an indication of untrustworthiness, in which case the municipality shall be given a reasonable opportunity to lay an evidentiary foundation. (g) All other matters of evidence and procedure not specifically addressed in this act shall be subject to the rules of evidence and the rules of civil procedure as they apply in the courts of this state. (h) After hearing the evidence, the municipal court judge shall issue an order stating whether the person charged with the civil violation is liable for the violation and if so, the amount of the civil fine and court costs assessed. The amount of the civil fine may not be increased, decreased, or remitted by the municipal court, and shall be satisfied only by payment. (i) Except as provided in subsection (l), a person who is found liable for the violation at an adjudicative hearing or a person who fails to appear after requesting a hearing shall be assessed the civil fine and court costs. The civil fine and court costs shall be paid within 10 days of the municipal court's order following the hearing. (j) No civil fine or any court costs shall be assessed if the municipal judge enters a finding of no liability. (k) Any of the following shall be an affirmative defense to a violation, if proven by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) The operator of the motor vehicle was acting in compliance with the lawful order or direction of a police officer. (2) The motor vehicle was being operated as an authorized emergency vehicle under Sections 32-5A-7 and 32-5-213, Code of Alabama 1975, and that the operator was acting in compliance with those sections. (3) The motor vehicle was stolen or being operated by a person other than the owner of the vehicle without the effective consent of the owner. To establish the motor vehicle was stolen at the time of the violation, the owner must submit proof that the theft of the vehicle had been timely reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency, prior to the violation. (4) The license plate depicted in the recorded image of the violation was a stolen plate and being displayed on a motor vehicle other than the motor vehicle for which the plate had been issued. To establish the license plate displayed on the motor vehicle was a stolen plate, the owner must submit proof that the theft of the license plate had been timely reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency, prior to the violation. (5) The person who received the notice of violation was not the owner of the motor vehicle at the time of the violation. (6) The official traffic-control device was not in proper position and sufficiently visible to an ordinarily observant person. (7) The operator of the motor vehicle committed the violation so as to yield the right-of-way to an immediately approaching authorized emergency vehicle. (8) The presence of ice, snow, unusual amounts of rain, or other unusually hazardous road conditions existed that would make compliance with this act more dangerous under the circumstances than noncompliance. (l) An owner who fails to pay the amount of a civil fine or to contest liability in a timely manner is entitled to an adjudicative hearing on the violation if he or she does all of the following: (1) Files an affidavit with the municipal court stating he or she did not receive notice in a timely manner as required in Section 5. (2) Within 15 days of the date of actual receipt, he or she requests an adjudicative hearing. (m) Orders issued under this section may be filed in the office of the judge of probate of the county issuing the order and shall operate as a judicial lien in the same manner and with the same weight and effect as any other civil judgment filed therein. The municipality may be responsible for any applicable fees associated with the filing of the lien subject to a determination by the judge of probate.
An owner who is found liable after an adjudicative hearing may appeal that finding of civil liability to the circuit court with jurisdiction over the location of the violation, by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the municipal court. The notice of appeal must be filed not later than the 14th day after the date on which the municipal court judge entered the finding of civil liability. The filing of a notice of appeal shall stay the enforcement of the civil fine. An appeal shall be determined by the circuit court by trial de novo.
(a) An owner who is found liable after an adjudicative hearing may appeal that finding of civil liability to the circuit court of the county where the violation occurred, by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the municipal court. The notice of appeal must be filed not later than the 14th day after the date on which the municipal court judge entered the finding of civil liability. The filing of a notice of appeal shall stay the enforcement of the civil fine. An appeal shall be determined by the circuit court by trial de novo. (b) The circuit court hearing an appeal de novo shall use the same procedures that applied in municipal court with the following qualifications: (1) The proceedings shall retain their civil nature on appeal with the circuit court applying the preponderance of the evidence standard. (2) If the circuit court finds the owner liable, the owner shall be required to pay the civil fine and court costs. Court costs shall be assessed and distributed in the same manner and in the same amounts as prescribed by law for appeals from the municipal court. (3) The municipality shall be responsible for providing an attorney to represent the municipality and to prosecute the civil proceedings in the circuit court.
In the event the evidence produced by an automated traffic enforcement system does not produce an image of the license plate with sufficient clarity for a trained technician to determine the identity of the owner, and if the identity cannot otherwise be reliably established, then no notice of violation may be issued pursuant to this act. If, however, a notice of violation is issued, to the degree constitutionally allowed, those issues related to the identity of the vehicle or its owner shall affect the weight to be accorded the evidence and shall not affect its admissibility. Section 10. (a) A violation pursuant to this section shall not be considered a moving traffic violation. (b) No person may be arrested or incarcerated for nonpayment of a civil fine or late fee under this act. (c) No record of a civil violation made under this act shall be listed, entered, or reported on any criminal record or driving record, whether the record is maintained by the municipality or an outside agency. (d) The fact that a person is held liable for a civil fine for a violation of this act may not be considered a conviction for any purpose, may not be used to increase or enhance punishment for any subsequent offense of a criminal nature. (e) Any evidence generated by an automated traffic enforcement system may only be used as evidence in other proceedings if it is or becomes admissible under the rules of evidence applicable to the proceeding. Section 11. (a) The Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency shall provide data as necessary to the municipality either directly or through Nlets to enable the proper identification of the vehicle and information related to its owner. (b) The municipality shall keep statistical data regarding the effectiveness of automated traffic enforcement systems in reducing speeding violations, traffic-control device violations and collisions, and shall communicate the data to ALEA pursuant to rules adopted by the commission. The information may also be used by the Department of Transportation to assist in determining its administration of highway safety. Section 12. The placement of traffic-control devices and timing of yellow lights and red light clearance intervals, adopted by the municipality, shall conform to the most recent edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the Alabama Department of Transportation Signal Design Guide and Timing Manual. It shall be presumed that the municipality is in compliance with this section unless the contrary is shown by a preponderance of the evidence. Section 13. No civil penalty may be imposed and no adjudication of liability for a civil violation may be made under this act if the operator of the vehicle was arrested or was issued a citation and notice to appear by a sworn police officer for a criminal violation of any portion of Article 8, Chapter 5A, Title 32, including, but not limited to, Sections 32-5A-31, 32-5A-34, 32-5A-35, 32-5A-170 to 32-5A-178, inclusive, Code of Alabama 1975, or any other municipal ordinance which embraces and incorporates the statutes contained in that article, and which occurred simultaneously with and under the same set of circumstances which were recorded by the automated traffic enforcement system. Section 14. (a) Any person against whom an adjudication of liability for a civil violation is made pursuant to this act, or an ordinance passed pursuant to this act, and who pays the civil fine imposed shall have a cause of action against the operator of the vehicle at the time of the violation, for the amount of the civil fine paid plus any consequential or compensatory damages and reasonable attorney fees, without regard to the rules regarding joint and several liability, contribution, or indemnity. (b) Prior to bringing a civil action, the owner shall first make a written demand on the operator of the vehicle for reimbursement of the civil fine, giving the operator a minimum of 60 days to remit payment. If reimbursement is fully made within the 60-day period then there shall be no cause of action. (c) Any cause of action brought pursuant to this section must be commenced within two years from the date of the payment of the civil fine for a traffic violation. Section 15. (a) All local laws enacted prior to the effective date of this act enabling authority for automated traffic enforcement systems for a municipality are repealed. (b) (1) Any jurisdiction with such systems currently in place shall automatically be deemed to have received approval by the commission; however, beginning forthwith on the effective date of this act, the municipality shall follow this act for all operations and be subject to the oversight of the commission for continued operation. (2) Notwithstanding Section 6, a municipality with a local law in effect authorizing the use of automated traffic enforcement systems prior to the effective date of this act allowing an administrative hearing officer to conduct hearings in contested cases, may continue to allow an administrative hearing officer to hear contested cases that would otherwise by heard by a municipal court. Section 16. This act shall become effective 90 days following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law. Senate Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Transportation and Energy............ 3.0-APR-19Read for the second time and placed on the calen- dar 3 amendments................................. 0.9-MAY-19Read for the third time and passed as amended .... 2.3-MAY-19 Yeas 30 Nays Patrick Harris, Secretary.
|May 23, 2019||S||Transportation and Energy second Amendment Offered|
|May 23, 2019||H||Read for the first time and referred to the House of Representatives committee on Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure|
|May 23, 2019||S||Engrossed|
|May 23, 2019||S||Motion to Read a Third Time and Pass adopted Roll Call 1087|
|May 23, 2019||S||Singleton motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 1086|
|May 23, 2019||S||Singleton motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 1085|
|May 23, 2019||S||Transportation and Energy Amendment Offered|
|May 23, 2019||S||Singleton motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 1084|
|May 23, 2019||S||Transportation and Energy Amendment Offered|
|May 23, 2019||S||Transportation and Energy Amendment Offered|
|May 23, 2019||S||Third Reading Passed|
|May 9, 2019||S||Read for the second time and placed on the calendar 3 amendments|
|April 30, 2019||S||Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Transportation and Energy|