Monday, April 30, 2012

Glenarden Places School Zone Cameras on Block with no School

WJLA has reported that the City of Glenarden has placed a "school zone" speed camera on a block of Glenarden Parkway nowhere near any school, after some local residents and AAA took notice of the site.  The closest school to the camera site is approximately 1/2 mile "as the crow flies" from the camera, the absolute limit permitted under state law, but is farther by driving distance.  The small town of Glenarden's speed cameras have issued $750,000 worth of tickets so far.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Emergency Legislation" Introduced to Impose Late Fees

Near the end of the general assembly, an "emergency bill" was introduced which would allow counties and cities to impose late fees for red light and speed camera citations to people who pay a fine after the deadline on the citation.  Senate Bill 1101 was introduced by State Senator Victor Ramirez on 3/29, and was referred on the Judicial Proceedings Committee on April 6th.  The bill applies to red light and speed camera tickets as well as parking tickets.

Most jurisdictions CURRENTLY charge late fees for citations, EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO EXPLICIT AUTHORIZATION FOR SUCH FEES IN STATE LAW.  The fiscal policy notes for the bill states "On March 21, 2012, the Chief Judge of the District Court issued a letter advising local governments that, despite current references in the District Court Uniform Speed Monitoring Citation to local administrative, flagging, and/or late fees, such fees likely violate the requirement in Article IV, Section 41A of the Maryland Constitution that the District Court be uniform throughout the State. The District Court had allowed a local government to charge administrative, flagging, and/or late fees for fines generated by traffic control signal monitoring systems if the jurisdiction had submitted a copy of a local ordinance authorizing such fees. The letter indicates that 31 jurisdictions authorize such fees. However, this practice was determined to likely be in violation of the uniformity requirement of the Maryland Constitution, and the District Court will revise the Uniform Speed Monitoring Citation to eliminate any reference to the local authorization."

In other words, numerous jurisdictions have been illegally, and unconstitutionally, imposing late fees which they are not authorized to under state law... for years.