MD Speed Camera Reform May Mean Relief For Drivers - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

MD Speed Camera Reform May Mean Relief For Drivers

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MARYLAND - Some big changes are on the way for Maryland's speed cameras.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the "Speed Monitoring Systems Reform Act of 2014 will put an end to the bounty system, by closing the loophole that has allowed camera vendors to be paid with a commission on each ticket in jurisdictions operating speed camera programs in school zones across the state.

Reports say the new law prohibits a "local jurisdiction from making a vendor's fee contingent on a per-ticket basis on the number of citations issued or paid." It also reportedly tightens the legal definition of a school zone, and prohibits abuses such as placing speed cameras in areas with posted speed limits of less than 20 miles per hour, and mandates that the annual calibration of a speed camera must be conducted by an independent laboratory.

The law also reportedly requires each jurisdiction in the state with such a program to appoint an ombudsman to resolve and void erroneous citations before the motorist goes to court to prove his or her innocence and to respond to citizens' complaints, questions, and concerns about the program, adds the auto club. Officials say speed camera tickets are $40 and no points are assessed, yet ticketed motorists must take a day off from work to fight them.

The new statewide speed camera reform law has several key components that AAA Mid-Atlantic has reportedly supported, including:

  • Closing the loophole that allows camera vendors to be paid with a commission on each ticket, which was clearly not the intent of the original law;
  • Clarifying the definition of school zone and requirements for placement of school zone signs proximate to speed monitoring signs;
  • Clarifying the definition of  "erroneous violation" and subjecting the contractor to liquidated damages for each erroneous violation equal to at least 50 percent of the fine amount if more than five percent of the violations in a calendar year are erroneous;
  • Requiring that a violation must be signed by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, rather than an agent or employee of a law enforcement agency;
  • Requiring local jurisdictions with speed monitoring systems to designate an official or employee to review a citation if contacted by a person who received a ticket that they believe to be in error. The designee must respond prior to the deadline for a motorist to contest a ticket. The designee is required to void the citation if it is determined that it is an erroneous violation;
  • Restricting local jurisdictions from issuing a citation until signage is installed and for at least 15 calendar days after the signage is installed at any new location where a speed monitoring system had not previously been placed;
  • Requiring a local jurisdiction to select the laboratory that conducts annual independent calibration checks and that the lab have no affiliation with the manufacturer of the speed monitoring system;
  • Requiring the Maryland Police Training Commission, in consultation with the Maryland State Highway Administration and other interested stakeholders, to develop a training program for oversight and administration of a speed monitoring program by a local jurisdiction, including a curriculum of best practices. A program administrator must participate in the training program before a jurisdiction initially implements a speed-monitoring program and at least once every two years thereafter.
  • Requiring the Maryland Police Training Commission to compile and make publicly available a report by December 31 each year, and requiring each local jurisdiction to report information to the commission each year. The commission report must include specified data, including:
    • total number of citations issued;
    • number of citations issued and the number voided as erroneous violations for each camera;
    • gross revenue generated by the program;
    • expenditures incurred by the program;
    • net revenue generated by the program;
    • total amount of any payments made to a contractor under the program;
    • description of how the net revenue generated by the program was used;
    • number of employees of the local jurisdiction involved in the program;
    • type of speed monitoring system used by the local jurisdiction;
    • locations at which each speed monitoring system was used in the local jurisdiction;
    • activation start & stop dates of each speed monitoring system for each location at which it was used; and
    • number of citations issued by each speed monitoring system at each location.

The law was reportedly passed earlier this year during the 2014 Session of the Maryland General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley earlier this month.

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