Monday, March 5, 2012

Delegate Wants to Exempt Cops from Camera Tickets

Delegate Frank Conaway (D, Baltimore City) has sponsored two bills which if passed would exempt "emergency vehicles" (House Bill 848) and law enforcement vehicles (House Bill 857) from receiving either speed or red light camera citations, making no distinction as to whether the vehicles were responding to calls or emergencies.

Police legally can exceed the speed limit or run red lights if they are responding to an emergency with their sirens on.  If a police cruiser or emergency vehicle were driving with its flashers on, this normally would be identified during citation review, as the lights would be visible in citation images.  If not when the government entity which owns the vehicle receives the citations jurisdictions such as Montgomery County have an administrative review process to determine whether the officer should be held accountable, depending on whether there was a record of a call and the jurisdiction's evaluation of the officer's explanation.

Conaway's legislation does not make any distinction as to whether the officer was responding to a call or off duty, so all law enforcement vehicles would be automatically exempt from both speeding and running red lights.  Whether a privately owned 'law enforcement' vehicle such as a speed camera van would also be exempted from tickets is unclear from the wording of the legislation.

Delegate Conaway has also sponsored legislation this year which would create an entirely new type of photo enforcement system which could issue $500 fines to large commercial vehicles.

HB857(police exemption) is scheduled to be heard by the House Environmental Matters Committee on March 9 starting at 1pm, while HB848(emergency vehicle exemption) is scheduled to be heard on March 6.