A trio of state lawmakers is uneasy that their constituents and other visitors to Seattle might unknowingly be recorded on camera violating a new law unlike any traffic laws outside the city limits.

Beginning Jan. 1, Seattle will install cameras in up to 20 intersections and crosswalks to launch a pilot program to photograph vehicles that stop in a crosswalk. The infraction carries a $75 fine, though officials say first-time violators will receive a warning. Either notice would arrive by mail, since the cameras are automated and motorists may not even know they committed an infraction.

“Seattle drivers will get used to this very quickly, but people who live outside the city  are unlikely to even know such a law exists,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim). “There isn’t a traffic law like this on the books in any community in the rest of the state.”

Though transportation officials say the crosswalks will be flagged with signs and pavement markings, the lawmakers question whether those identifiers would be noticed by someone in a moving vehicle.

“When I’m driving, and I don’t think I’m that different from a lot of my constituents, I’m watching the road and other cars,” said Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles). “I’m not looking at signs unless I’m searching for a particular street sign to make a turn.

“My constituents are good, law-abiding people, but it’s hard to obey a law you’ve never heard about. Traffic laws are typically uniform from community to community, but this isn’t a law anywhere else in the state.”

The lawmakers say there is no way to adequately publicize an uncommon, Seattle-specific law to infrequent visitors from other cities, towns or rural areas.

“Seattle has every right to enforce its traffic laws, but people need fair warning,” said Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island). “You can’t just approve a law that doesn’t exist in any other community in the state and expect people to magically know that the rules are very different when they drive into Seattle.”

Van De Wege said the law is compounded by Seattle’s high level of traffic congestion and the resulting element of surprise for many motorists.

“You see traffic in Seattle that you just don’t see in our rural 24th District,” he said. “Traffic doesn’t suddenly stop dead at intersections in our communities the way it can in Seattle.”

The lawmakers fear visitors will assume they can get through an intersection, be caught off guard by heavy Seattle backups and wind up stuck in the intersection — and not even realize they did anything wrong until they receive notification in the mail.

All three legislators voted against the bill when it passed the Senate and House in 2020.