Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maryland Red Light Cameras Caught Issuing Bogus Tickets

Fox 5 News has reported that red light cameras in New Carrolton, MD have been issuing large numbers of bogus tickets to cars which in fact stopped for the red light. The cameras were apparently issuing tickets to anyone who crossed the white line at the intersection, even if they came to a complete stop. A senior representative of AAA Mid Atlantic received one of the citations after he stopped at the intersection.

One driver interviewed by Fox news after being "flashed" while stopped at the intersection indicated "If I got it I wouldn't fight it no. If the camera is set to do it that way I just have to pay the ticket." In fact many drivers with less means than media clout than a senior representative of an organization like AAA might not make a challenge, given that Maryland law permits jurisdictions to threaten to raise the fine for citations from $75 to $100 and tack on court costs to anyone who takes their red light camera ticket to court.

The FAQ on the New Carrolton Police website makes it clear that automatically issuing tickets to large numbers of cars which in fact did stop for the light was deliberate:
"Q: I received a Red Light Camera ticket in the mail, but I am sure I stopped for the light. Why did I receive this?
A: In addition to vehicles which proceed through the intersection while the light is in the red phase, red light camera violations are also triggered by vehicles which pass the clearly marked "stop line" or enter the pedestrian crosswalk. "

Transportation Article 21-202.1, the section of the Maryland code which authorizes the use of red light cameras defines a“Traffic control signal monitoring system” as "a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors working in conjunction with a traffic control signal to produce recorded images of motor vehicles entering an intersection against a red signal indication." and does not authorize their use against cars which stop before the intersection.

Forcing cars to stop too quickly might put drivers in the position of either being rear-ended or having to actually run the red light.

"Numerous" complaints have been received not just from New Carrolton but also Bladensburg and Riverdale, all in Prince George's County, MD. Prince George's County is currently requesting authorization from the Maryland legislature to permit the use of speed cameras, including one bill that would allow them on "primary highways".

Remember that the choice to use photo enforcement to defraud passing motorists is a political decision, made by elected officials in PG County and New Carrollton. Please give them an earful. Using cameras for this purpose is clearly neither fair nor is it in the interest of safety.
New Carrollton Mayor Andres Hanko : 301-577-0256, ahanko@new-carrollton.md.us
New Carrollton City Council members:
Duane H. Rosenberg : 301-441-3324, drosenberg@new-carrollton.md.us
James A. Wildoner 301-577-0992, jwildoner@new-carrollton.md.us
David L. Anderson 301-459-6100, danderson@new-carrollton.md.us
Katrina R. Dodro 301-513-9239, kdodro@new-carrollton.md.us
Liza Fenton 301-459-6100, lfenton@new-carrollton.md.us
Prince George's County Executive: 301-952-4131
Prince George's County Council: 301-952-3700
Council member emails: TEDernoga@co.pg.md.us, WACampos@co.pg.md.us,
EOlson@co.pg.md.us, IMTurner@co.pg.md.us, councildistrict5@co.pg.md.us, SHDean@co.pg.md.us, CAExum@co.pg.md.us, TKnotts@co.pg.md.us, mmbland@co.pg.md.us

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Please CONTACT US if you have received one of these fraudulent red light camera tickets. We believe that it may be possible to use legal action to end this dangerous, unethical, and illegal practice which these town are engaging in.