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Lawmaker Takes Aim at Speed Cameras That Have Been Giving Out 'Bogus' Tickets


"Is government here to raise revenue, or is government here to keep our residents safe?"

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

A Maryland lawmaker has said if it's fair for speed cameras to fine those justifiably caught in the act, the reverse should be true of the camera vendor themselves when they're not capturing accurate information and yet still sending the ticket.

The suggestion for a $1,000 fine for "bogus" tickets by Baltimore County Democrat Jon Cardin comes after the Baltimore Sun's investigation of the city's speed cameras, which found at least five out of 83 had issues.

"Over the last few weeks, the speed camera issue has really shaken all our confidence in what our government is here to do," said Cardin at a news conference, according to the Sun. "Is government here to raise revenue, or is government here to keep our residents safe?

"We want people to drive slow," Cardin continued. "We want our citizens, our construction workers and our students to be safe. But we can't undermine the confidence of residents in the process."

To go along with a $1,000 fine for cameras that aren't working properly, Cardin wants the companies to submit camera audits to the General Assembly to prove they are issuing accurate tickets.

The Sun reported that legislative auditors recently criticized the State Highway Administration for not having the cameras calibrated independently before they were officially put into use in 2009.

House majority leader Kumar Barve (D) agreed with Cardin's call for a "penalty for bad behavior" on the speed camera company's part.

According to the Sun, Baltimore has backed off of 6,000 of 1.6 million tickets issued by the cameras since they were installed in 2009. The total revenue brought in from the speed cameras for the city is around 40 million with increased safety cited as well.

Cardin clarified that not every ticket that was forgiven by a judge would result in a fine for companies either, only those that are legitimately unjust on the driver's part.

There's also a way for the state's speed cameras to verify accuracy of the ticket that the Sun reported Cardin saying he thinks should be used statewide (it is already being done in Baltimore). Here's how it works:

When the city issues a ticket, the two time-stamped photos are measured to a fraction of a second. The time between the two photos, plus a measurement of the distance a vehicle traveled, can be used to calculate the speed — which can then be compared to the alleged speed.

Tickets issued by surrounding counties and the state highway agency round off the time to the second, meaning both pictures often have the identical time, making such an analysis impossible. The jurisdictions all say they comply with the law, which does not specify how precise times must be.

It was through such time-stamp analysis that the Sun was able to find wrongly issued tickets in the first place.

WJZ reported some locals who have lost faith (or never had faith) in the speed camera system would support a fine for companies giving out unjust tickets as well.

“Just like we’re accountable at work every day or held to a standard that we should be producing our work correctly, I think they should be held to the same standard,” one man told the news channel.

Watch the report:

Cardin is beginning to draft legislation along these lines, which will be brought to the General Assembly, once completed and co-sponsored.


Featured image via Shutterstock.com. 

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