Photo speed enforcement on I-5 near Chehalis


The in basket: Roger Miller of Bremerton writes “While driving through Soap Lake two weeks ago, I noticed signs at either end of town that stated the speed limit was ‘Photo Enforced.’  Then, last weekend I noticed a similar sign with Washington Department of Transportation initials on it in the southbound lane of I-5 just south of Chehalis.  

“What exactly do those signs mean?” Roger asked. “Is there a nearby camera designed to raise money by automatically photographing speeders, similar to the automated revenue generating cameras currently being used in Bremerton to catch red light runners?  

“If automated speed limit cameras are indeed in use, how would they differentiate between a solo passenger car and either a truck or a car with a trailer since they have different speed limits on the freeway (70 mph for a car, 60 mph for a truck or trailer).” 

The out basket: The I-5 sign near Chehalis denotes the only use so far of a pilot program of photo speed enforcement in state highway work zones, says Alice Fiman of the state Department of Transportation. 

The camera is in an SUV with orange “Give’Em a Brake” stickers on it. The violator might not know he’s been photographed speeding until he gets the citation in the mail, as the camera photographs the rear plate after the car is past the SUV.

“It’s important to note this program is only used in active construction zones where workers are present,”” Alice said. It will probably end on the Chehalis site around Oct. 31, but return to I-5 a little north of there when similar work at Grand Mound begins. It may also be used next year at projects in Bellingham and near Leavenworth, where an interchange will replace the intersection of highways 2 and 97.

As with red light photo enforcement, such as Bremerton’s, the tickets are citations, not moving violations, so not reported to one’s insurance company. The fines also are not doubled, such as they are when an officer pulls you over for speeding in a work zone. The fine is $137.

The threshold speed for a ticket varies, Alice said, but she doesn’t think it has been less than 70 mph, 10 mph over the temporary speed limit in that work zone. That 60 mph posted speed limit is for all traffic, so differentiating between cars and trucks isn’t necessary. There’s an operator in the SUV who can make such judgments, if needed, Alice said.

You can learn more about the program online at

I couldn’t get anyone in the tiny Soap Lake Police Department to call me back, but Chuck Fogerson of their chamber of commerce said they do have red light photo enforcement there. He was unaware of any speed enforcement by camera in the town.






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