Faced with a $120 million budget deficit, West Virginia lawmakers are turning to school buses to bring in desperately needed revenue. The House of Delegates voted 98-0 Saturday to give final approval to House Bill 4223 which allows county school boards to deploy buses to issue $500 automated tickets. The proposal becomes law with the signature of Governor Joe Manchin (D).
“Every county board of education is hereby authorized to mount a camera on any school bus for the purpose of enforcing this section or for any other lawful purpose,” House Bill 4223 states.
Private companies have been traveling to school boards around the country offering to install the cameras at no cost. The company would then issue tickets, collect on the fines and deposit a significant cut of the profits into the school board’s bank account with no work required on the school’s part. The Italian firm Elsag, for example, ran a test of the system in New York state last year. West Virginia’s law, however, would require photographing the driver when issuing the citations. For the first ticket, a thirty-day license suspension is mandatory, with a judge having discretion to impose a six-month jail sentence. After a third ticket is mailed, jail time is mandatory. Arizona currently is the only state that jails vehicle owners based solely on the evidence provided by a ticket camera.