Speed cameras warning signs causing disputes

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A mobile speed camera used by the PPA. Source: PPA

Lawyers hold different opinions about whether the law obliges drivers be informed about speed cameras via traffic sign. Members of the Riigikogu are trying to create legal clarity, meanwhile.

Reform Party MP Toomas Kivimägi was a member of the committee which accepted the law on mobile speed cameras. Kivimägi told ERR that when voting for the law, he was told that adding the sign was mandatory.

"If I had known it doesn't have to be there, it would've been understandable to save money and I wouldn't have voted for the draft legislation," Kivimägi said.

"I think I'm not the only one who considered this when voting for the draft. Obviously, the parliament has been tricked, to put it politely," he said.

During the third reading of the draft legislation, the Minister of Justice referred to the worry that when there's no sign displayed ahead of a camera, a speeding driver gets the right to dispute the fine. A lawyer focusing on traffic disputes, Indrek Sirk, said that the current and valid law doesn't grant that right.

"In traffic surveillance, there is no requirement in Estonia that the state needs to warn the driver, regardless of whether the surveillance goes via the police patrol or a policeman, an automatic speed camera or a mobile camera. The driver doesn't need to be warned," Sirk said.

However, there are lawyers with different opinions and there is a case in court currently where a fine is being disputed on the exact same basis. Henri Timberg, Head of the Law Enforcement Policy Department at the Ministry of the Interior, does not see the need to make the signs mandatory. Timberg said that although the cameras are still mostly marked, the police would lose flexibility if signs were made obligatory.

"The signs are still there mainly for the purpose that this camera with the sign is many times more effective than without it. This has also been proven by various studies. The police still use these signs at the moment and then choose the appropriate distance where it is most sensible to place them. No, there is currently no provision in the law that obliges using the signs," Timberg said.

Center Party MP Igor Kravtšenko has approached the Chancellor of Justice on the subject. Toomas Kivimägi also wants to solve the situation and is recoursing to the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communication, Taavi Aas (Center).

"I will write an official letter and ask for his opinion because this is currently the easiest way to solve the situation. As I understand, it doesn't require any legal amendments. It is not required to petition parliament to make the sign mandatory. In my view, that is a matter for the minister. If the competence of the minister is not sufficient, then it is within the competence of the government in any case; the parliament does not have to do it," Kivimägi said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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