Md. considers new rules on speed cameras - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Md. considers new rules on speed cameras

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The Maryland State Legislature is considering several bills that would alter how automated speed cameras are now used in the state.

Six counties and about two dozen municipalities in Maryland use automated speed cameras. Some motorists think the mechanical ticket issuers, on some occasions, are just plain wrong. And they have been letting their legislators know that.

Delegate C.T. Wilson (D -- Charles Co.) happens to be a defense attorney, and says when motorists challenge the machines, judges tend to be very dismissive of the citizens’ point of view.

Wilson said, “I’ve watched people testify [in court. They say] ‘Your honor, that’s not my car.’ ‘Well, it’s your car, today.’ [is the judge’s reply].”

Del. Wilson made his comments at a hearing on changing the rules for speed cameras. Wilson favors the new rules.

An audit of a thousand citations issued by automated enforcement cameras in Baltimore found an error rate of ten percent. The city has temporarily suspended their use. Del. Jon Cardin (D -- Baltimore County), the author of one of the proposed bills, says, “There’s a $16 million line item in the Baltimore City budget for speed camera revenue. I am not convinced that this is not just a money-grab.”

One bill currently before a House committee (HB 929) would require daily self-tests for the machines, establish a local “administrator” who could void tickets before a court date, and penalize contractors financially if more than five percent of tickets are erroneous.

Another bill, Cardin’s HB 57 would slap a $1,000 civil fine on the equipment maintainer for every erroneous ticket.

Both bills would prohibit contracts basing the vendor’s income on the number of tickets issued by the machines.

Somewhat similar legislation passed the House last year, but in the legislative crush at the end of the session, it got lost in the Senate. Supporters of changing the rules for enforcement cameras say they will try again this year to pass legislation in both chambers.

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