Mississippi mayor vetoes cameras to identify uninsured drivers national politics

COLUMBUS, Mississippi (AP) — A Mississippi mayor has vetoed a proposal to install cameras that would help police identify and penalize uninsured drivers.

Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin said in his veto Friday that the city lacks an attorney general’s opinion on whether the use of surveillance equipment for this purpose is permitted, the Commercial Dispatch reported. Gaskin also said a program could be ineffective.

“Every person who drives a vehicle should have insurance under state law,” Gaskin said. “However, fining a driver for not having such insurance is unlikely to result in the purchase of additional insurance policies.”

The Columbus City Council Tuesday voted 5-1 in favor of a deal with Atlanta-based Securix for cameras to photograph license plates of passing drivers. Tag numbers would be checked against a database to see if the vehicle had insurance, and if not, a police officer would issue a summons to the driver.

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Mississippi has the highest rating of uninsured drivers, said Robert Wilkinson, an attorney representing Securix. He said Ocean Springs is among the Mississippi cities now using the cameras.

Pearl and Senatobia plan to have cameras rolling soon, said Josh Gregory, a consultant at Frontier Strategies, which helps market Securix’s services.

A 2009 Mississippi statute prohibits automatic license plate readers or video recorders from detecting and penalizing or imposing or collecting violations of “stop lights, traffic speeds, or any other traffic law, rule, or regulation on public roads, streets, or highways in that state.” any civil or criminal fine, fee or penalty.”

Wilkinson told the Columbus City Council that an attorney general’s opinion states that the law applies to red light running and speeding, but does not prohibit using these methods to enforce insurance laws. Gaskin and City Attorney Jeff Turnage said the city has not received a statement from the Attorney General on the matter.

For copyright information, please contact the distributor of this item, The Columbus Dispatch.

Updated: April 10, 2022 — 8:11 pm

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