Saturday, February 11, 2012

Motorist: Baltimore City Cameras Commit "Highway Robbery"

A motorist wrote the following in a letter to the editor to the Baltimore Sun, complaining that the city's Red Light Camera System :issued him an illegitimate citation, and that he was unable to get a court date to contest it:
Some time ago I received a citation from Baltimore's Department of Finance, Bureau of Revenue Collections demanding $75 for committing an illegal turn on red at a city intersection.

However, turning on red is perfectly legal at that intersection, and the photograph on the citation shows my vehicle not even yet in the intersection, with the brake light on to boot. It was in fact stopped. Only then was the legal turn on red completed.

I tried to obtain a court date and exercise my right to contest the charge, but at that point the fun was only starting. The phone number listed to secure a court date, is — surprise — never answered. The Baltimore city website did not even list the citation number. In the meantime, I received a stern, follow-up warning that if I didn't pay by a certain date, the fine would increase to $100 and eventually the vehicle's registration would be jeopardized.

I kept at it, however, and called the Maryland District Court, and was given the name of an actual human being at the Department of Finance that I could talk to. The person there advised me that I might get an court date in four to six months, and that it would probably take place before my auto registration was suspended for non-payment. As for the warning notices, I was advised to ignore them. I still don't have a court date.

But the story doesn't end there. My wife, who works at a high school nearby, has observed other cars stop at the same the red light, have their picture taken by the camera, and then go on to complete what the drivers think is a perfectly legal turn. 
Read More in the Baltimore Sun