Mississippi city approves cameras to read license plates, verify insurance status, issue tickets through the mail

Published 8:39 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Batesville aldermen have approved the installation of automatic license plate readers for selected intersections in the city that will gather information from passing vehicles to determine which are not insured and ticket the owners by mail.

SECURIX made the proposal last month and it was approved by a unanimous vote. The system will not be equipped to record speeding or failure to stop at red lights, features that are not allowed by Mississippi law in general.

Under the system that will soon be in Batesville, citations will be mailed to the registered owners of vehicles. Those owners can then object to the citation in Municipal Court, or agree to the charge and pay the fine.

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The company offers a reduced fine if the vehicle owner shows proof of insurance in a timely manner and completes an online diversion program.

A representative of the company told aldermen, based on preliminary information, the city can expect to collect $5 million in fines over the next five years. Mayor Hal Ferrell said he doubts the city will collect that much, but that any will help and will reduce the number of uninsured vehicles being driven around the city each day.

“I don’t believe we will collect what they say, but if we get half of that figure then it will be a big help,” Ferrell said. “I checked their numbers with Ocean Springs and other cities and so far they are holding up pretty good.”

Ferrell said he was assured that safeguards are in place with the company that will prevent citations from being mailed to owners from multiple cities and locations inside the city. If a vehicle passes through Senatobia (which also has the system) and into Batesville on the same day, the system will issue just the first citation.

Also, Ferrell noted that while some may be upset that tag readers are being used to record their travels, citizens who maintain insurance would be the ultimate benefactors.

“The only people that are turned off are people who are violating the law,” he said.

The literature presented to aldermen said, “This is a public safety program. The focus is neither punishment or revenue, but instead, ensuring that your citizens are safer and that driers are more respectful.”

The presentation said that based on the city’s approximate 7,000 population, and substantial traffic on I-55 and Hwys. 6 and 51. Daily traffic counts sometimes exceed 29,000 and well over 20,000 on the interstate exits.

At least 750,000 vehicles from regular interstate traffic, over the next five years, will have been inside the city limits.

The dollar figures for the citations have not been released but will made public when the system goes online.