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:Municipal Red Light Cameras
SECTION 18. Chapter 90 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 20A1/2 the following section:-
Section 20A3/4. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, any city or town may, upon the acceptance of this section and in accordance with section 2 of chapter 85, employ a “monitoring system” along any portion of any way within its control and may adopt local measures imposing a monetary penalty on the owner of a motor vehicle for failure by its operator to comply with the laws, codes, regulations, by-laws, ordinances, rules or other forms of legislation governing the traffic control signals in the city or town in which the monitoring system is located.
(b) (1) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
“Local measure”, an ordinance, rule, by-law, code or regulation adopted by any city or town, establishing a schedule of monetary penalties imposed on the owner or owners of a motor vehicle for failure by its operator to comply with the laws, ordinances, rules, by-laws, codes, regulations or other forms of legislation governing the traffic control signals in the city or town in which the monitoring system is located.
“Traffic control signal”, a signaling device positioned at a road intersection, pedestrian location or other location for the purpose of indicating through a series of colors (Red – Yellow – Green) the correct moment to stop and begin driving.
“Monitoring system”, an automated motor vehicle sensor device installed to work in conjunction with a traffic control signal that produces 2 or more film or digital camera based photographs or other recorded images of each motor vehicle at the time it is used or operated in a manner that is in violation of the traffic control signal at which the automated monitoring system is located.
“Violation”, the failure of an operator of a motor vehicle to comply with the laws, codes, regulations, by-laws, ordinances, rules or other forms of legislation governing the traffic control signals at which a traffic control signal violation monitoring system is located.
(2) Photographs from a monitoring system must, at a minimum, record the rear of the motor vehicle, with at least 1 image clearly recording the motor vehicle immediately before the violation of the traffic control signal and at least 1 image recording the motor vehicle passing through the intersection in violation of the traffic control signal. Additionally, at least 1 image must clearly identify the registration plate of the motor vehicle;
(3) To the extent practicable, any monitoring system shall use necessary technologies to ensure that photographs produced by the monitoring system shall not include a frontal view photograph of the motor vehicle that is in violation of the traffic control signal or images that identify the operator, the passengers, or the contents of the vehicle, but no notice of liability issued under this section shall be dismissed solely because a photograph or photographs allow for the identification of the operator, passengers, or contents of a vehicle as long as the city or town has made a reasonable effort to comply with this paragraph.
(4) Any city or town shall clearly indicate the presence and usage of a monitoring system at each intersection where a monitoring system is in use by signage clearly visible to traffic approaching from all directions. Such signage shall be established at each system location for at least 30 days before the city or town issues citations under this section. The signage shall remain at each system location as long as a monitoring system is in operation.
(5) A penalty imposed by a local measure for a violation of this section shall not be considered a criminal conviction and shall not be made part of the operating record of the person upon whom the liability is imposed, nor shall the imposition of a penalty be used for insurance rating purposes in providing motor vehicle insurance coverage.
(6) The compensation paid to the manufacturer or vendor of the traffic control signal monitoring system deployed as a means of promoting traffic safety as authorized by this section shall not be based upon the number of traffic citations issued or any portion or percentage of the fine generated by the citations. The compensation paid to the manufacturer or vendor of the equipment shall be based upon the value of the equipment and the services provided in support of the traffic control signal monitoring system.
(7) Before a monitoring system may be installed, the traffic control signal installation must comply with the standards set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. If it is determined that the traffic control signal is not in compliance with these standards, it shall be the responsibility of the city or town installing the monitoring system to bring the traffic control signal into compliance. Verification that the traffic control signal meets these standards shall be made by a professional engineer registered in the commonwealth.
(8) If a city or town makes a determination to cease the operation of a monitoring system at a particular location, the administrator of the monitoring system within the city or town shall notify the department of highways 30 days before removing the monitoring system equipment from that location.
(c)(1) A certificate, or a facsimile thereof sworn to or affirmed by a police officer or other law enforcement officer authorized to issue motor vehicle citations for violations of traffic laws, stating that based upon inspection of the photographs, or other recorded images produced by a monitoring system, the vehicle was in violation of this section, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein. Any photographs or other recorded information produced by a monitoring system evidencing the violation shall be available for inspection in any proceeding to adjudicate the liability for the violation of a local measure adopted under this section.
(2) For each violation of this section, the owner or owners of a vehicle shall be jointly and severally liable for the penalty imposed by a local measure, but no owner of a vehicle shall be liable for a penalty imposed under this section where the operator of the vehicle has been convicted of the underlying violation under a citation issued in accordance with section 2 of chapter 90C. The maximum penalty that may be imposed under this section shall be $100 for each violation.
(3) A penalty imposed by a local measure may, if so provided in the local measure, be increased by up to 33 1/3% if the penalty remains unpaid in excess of 45 days after a notice of violation has been issued consistent with the procedures established in this section and there has been no request for a hearing under paragraph (3) of subsection (d).
(d)(1) Upon the determination of a violation of a local measure through the use of a monitoring system, it shall be the duty of the chief of police of the city or town, or any designee of the chief, to send to the owner or owners of the vehicle a notice to appear before the parking clerk of the city or town in which the violation occurred at any time during regular office hours. The notice shall require the owner or owners to appear not later than 45 days after the date the notice to appear was sent. The notice shall be addressed to the registered owner or owners of any motor vehicle identified in any photographs produced by the monitoring system as evidence of a violation of this section and shall be mailed by first class mail, post marked no later than 14 days after the date of the alleged violation, inclusive of Sundays and holidays. In the case of any motor vehicle registered under the laws of another state or country, if the address is unavailable, it shall be sufficient for the parking clerk to mail the notice of violation to the official in the state or country having charge of the registration of the motor vehicle. The notice shall be considered sufficient notice, and a certificate of the chief of police or the chief’s designee mailing the notice stating that it has been mailed in accordance with this section shall be deemed prima facie evidence thereof and shall be admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding as to the facts contained therein. The chief or the chief’s designee shall retain and safely preserve a copy of the notice of violation and shall at a time no later than the beginning of the next business day of the city or town after mailing the notice to the owner or owners, deliver another copy to the parking clerk before whom the owner or owners have been notified to appear. The parking clerk shall maintain a docket of all such notices to appear.
The notice shall contain but not be limited to the following information:
(i) a citation for the violation, which shall include the name and address of the person or persons liable as an owner or owners for the violation of this section, the registration number and state of issuance of the registration number of the vehicle involved in the violation, the date, time and location of the violation, the specific violation charged, the amount of the penalty for the violation, and the date by which the penalty shall be paid;
(ii) a copy of the recorded image showing the vehicle in violation of the traffic signal;
(iii) the identification number of the camera that recorded the violation or other document locator number;
(iv) a copy of the certificate or affidavit of the police officer under paragraph (1) of subsection (c);
(v) a schedule of fines for the violation as established by the city or town;
(vi) instructions for the return of the notice including but not limited to the following text:—
“This notice and the required payment may be returned in person, by mail, or by a duly authorized agent. A hearing to contest liability may be obtained upon the written request of the registered owner. Failure to pay the penalty or to contest liability within 45 days of issuance of this notice is an admission of liability and may result in a default judgment being entered against the owner to whom the violation has been issued and/or non-renewal or suspension of the license to drive and the certificate of registration of the registered owner.”
(vii) an affidavit form approved by the parking clerk for the purpose of complying with paragraph (4).
(viii) a statement explaining the procedure to adjudicate the violation by mail under paragraph (5).
(2) Any person notified to appear before the parking clerk, as provided in this section, may appear before the parking clerk, or his designee, and confess the offense charged, either personally or through a duly authorized agent or by mailing to the parking clerk the notice accompanied by the fine provided therein, such payment to be made only by postal note, money order or check made out to the parking clerk. Payment of the penalty established shall operate as a final disposition of the case.
(3) Should any person notified to appear hereunder fail to appear and, if a penalty is provided hereunder, to pay the same, or if the person requests a hearing to contest liability, the parking clerk shall forthwith schedule the matter before a person referred to in this section as a hearing officer. The hearing officer shall be the parking clerk of the city or town in which the violation occurred or any other person or persons that the parking clerk may designate. Written notice of the date, time and place of the hearing shall be sent by first-class mail to the registered owner or owners. The hearing shall be informal, the rules of evidence shall not apply and the decision of the hearing officer shall be final subject to judicial review as provided by section 14 of chapter 30A. Within 21 days of the hearing, the hearing officer shall send by first class mail to the registered owner or owners the decision of the hearing officer, including the reasons for the outcome.
(4) Any owner to whom a notice of violation has been issued shall not be liable for a violation of this section (a) if the violation was necessary to allow the passage of an emergency vehicle; (b) if the violation was necessary in order to protect the property or person of another; (c) if the violation was incurred while participating in a funeral procession; (d) if the violation was incurred during a period of time in which the motor vehicle was reported to the police department of any state, city or town as having been stolen and had not been recovered before the time the violation occurred; (e) if the operator of the motor vehicle was operating the motor vehicle under a rental or lease agreement and the owner of the motor vehicle is a rental or leasing company; (f) if the operator of the motor vehicle was convicted of the underlying violation under a citation issued in accordance with section 2 of chapter 90C; (g) if the violation was necessary to comply with an order of a law enforcement officer or of a flagger directing traffic flow; (h) if the vehicle was subject to the exceptions granted to an authorized emergency vehicle under section 7B of chapter 89; or (i) if the violation was necessary to comply with any other law or regulation governing the operation of a motor vehicle at the intersection. An owner disputing a violation under this subsection shall, within 45 days of issuance of the notice, provide the parking clerk with an affidavit signed under the pains and penalties of perjury in a form approved by the parking clerk, as provided for in clause (vii) of paragraph (1) of this subsection stating (1) the reason for disputing the violation; (2) the full legal name and address of the owner of the motor vehicle; (3) the names and addresses of all witnesses supporting the owner’s defense and the specifics of their knowledge; and where applicable (4) the signed statements from witnesses. The affidavit shall be filed with the request for a hearing.
(5) Any person notified to appear before the parking clerk, as provided in this paragraph, may without waiving his right to a hearing before the parking clerk or hearing officer as provided by this subsection, and also without waiving judicial review under section 14 of chapter 30A, challenge the validity of the violation notice and receive a review and disposition of the violation from the parking clerk or a hearing officer by mail. The owner may, upon receipt of the notice to appear, send a signed statement explaining his objections to the violation notice as well as signed statements from witnesses, police officers, government officials and any other relevant parties. Photographs, diagrams, maps and other documents may also be sent with the statements. Any statements or materials sent to the parking clerk for review shall have attached the person’s name and address as well as the citation number and the date of the violation. The parking clerk or hearing officer shall, within 21 days of receipt of this material, review the material and dismiss or uphold the violation and notify, by mail, the owner or owners of the disposition of the written review. If the outcome of the written review is adverse to the owner or owners, the parking clerk or hearing officer shall explain the reasons for the outcome on the notice. The review and disposition handled by mail shall be informal, the rules of evidence shall not apply, and the decision of the parking clerk or hearing officer based upon the written materials shall be final, unless the owner invokes the hearing provisions under this section or judicial review under section 14 of chapter 30A.
(6) If any person fails to appear before the hearing officer in accordance with the notice, or fails to receive a favorable adjudication of the hearing from a hearing officer and fails to pay the fine within 30 days of the date that the hearing officer has mailed notice of the decision of the hearing officer, the parking clerk shall notify the registrar of motor vehicles, who shall place the matter on record. Upon notification to the registrar of 2 or more notices under this section or sections 20A or 20A½ from the parking clerk of the city or town, or state authorities or agencies, the registrar shall not issue or renew or may suspend the owner’s license to operate a motor vehicle or motor vehicle registration until after notification from the parking clerk of each city, agency or authority, from whom the registrar received notification, that all fines, taxes and penalties owed by the owner under this section have been disposed of in accordance with law. Upon such notification to the registrar, an additional charge of $20 payable to the registrar but collected by the city or town, and an additional charge of $20 payable to and collected by the city or town, shall be assessed against the registered owner of the motor vehicle. It shall be the duty of the parking clerk to notify the registrar forthwith that the case has been so disposed, but certified receipt of full and final payment from the parking clerk of the city or town, or state agency or authority issuing the violation shall also serve as legal notice to the registrar that the violation has been disposed of in accordance with law. The certified receipt shall be printed in a form approved by the registrar of motor vehicles.
(7) Upon the accumulation by an owner of 2 or more outstanding notices under this section or sections 20A or 20A½ on account of violations of any statute, ordinance, order, rule or regulation relating to the operation, control or parking of motor vehicles in a particular city or town, notwithstanding any notification to the registrar, the parking clerk of the city or town may notify the chief of police or director of traffic and parking of the city or town that the vehicle bearing the registration to which the notices have been issued shall be removed and stored or otherwise immobilized by a mechanical device at the expense of the registered owner of the vehicle until all fines, taxes and penalties owed by the owner either under this section, or otherwise arising out of the parking or usage of the owner’s motor vehicle, have been disposed of in accordance with law. No vehicle shall be removed, stored, or otherwise immobilized unless the owner of the motor vehicle shall have received 10 days prior notification by mail that the motor vehicle may be removed, stored, or immobilized without further notification. It shall be sufficient for the parking clerk to mail, postage prepaid, the notification to the last known address of the registered owner. It shall be sufficient for the parking clerk, in the case of a motor vehicle registered in another state or country, to mail notification to the official in the state or country having charge of the registration of the motor vehicle.
(e)(1) Other than for purposes of enforcement of a violation of this section or for purposes of an owner defending a violation of this section, photographs or records taken or created under this section may only be obtained under an order by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(2) Photographic and other recorded information obtained through the use of monitoring systems authorized in this section that do not identify a violation shall be destroyed within 90 days of the date the image was recorded, unless otherwise ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. All photographic and other recorded information that identifies a violation shall be destroyed within 1 year of final disposition of proceedings related to the enforcement or defense of a violation, unless otherwise ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. Each city and town utilizing 1 or more monitoring systems shall file notice annually with the secretary of state that these records have been destroyed in accordance with this paragraph.
(3) The administrator of the monitoring system within any city or town accepting this section shall also submit an annual report to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation regarding the use and operation of the monitoring system. This annual report shall contain data on the number of citations issued under this section at each particular intersection, and of those citations, shall detail the number paid without a request for a hearing; the number found responsible after a hearing; and the number dismissed after a hearing. In addition, the report shall also include the cost to maintain each monitoring system and the amount of revenue obtained from each monitoring system.
(4) The Massachusetts Department of Transportation shall, within 180 days of the effective date of this section, adopt rules and regulations for the orderly operation and standardization of the section. The administrator of the monitoring system within any city or town accepting this section shall comply with these rules and regulations for the orderly operation and standardization of this section, including but not limited to rules and regulations which may pertain to the comparison of pre- and post-monitoring system installation crash conditions to verify the effectiveness of the system.