Councilmembers’ bill would slash D.C. speed camera fines

Wells says the proposal is needed to combat concerns that the District uses photo enforcement as a way to raise revenue. (WTOP/Paul Shinkman)

Mark Segraves, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A proposal by three members of the D.C. Council would reduce speed camera fines in the District from the highest in the nation to a maximum of $50.

D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, will introduce the Safety-Based Traffic Enforcement Act of 2012 Tuesday. As part of the bill, fines for photo-enforced infractions such as speeding, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, failure to stop at a stop sign or blocking the box in an intersection would result in a graduated fine with a maximum of $50.

“Most people I talk to are convinced that our automated traffic enforcement cameras are mostly about raising revenue,” Wells says in a press release. “This must change – particularly as (the Metropolitan Police Department) prepares to expand the number of enforcement cameras and increase the types of moving violations that will be enforced with these cameras.”

The District plans to expand its use of photo enforcement by adding more speed and red-light cameras in the city, as well as deploying new technology that allows for photo enforcement against drivers that commit violations like running a stop sign.

Photo-enforced fines for speeding currently can cost as much as $250 in the District, compared to $40 in Maryland. The new legislation would not reduce or change the fines for running a red light, which also is enforced by cameras in some locations.

Speed camera fines in D.C. also currently double after not being paid within 30 days. Under the proposal, those late fees would increase gradually over an extended period of time before they double.

The measure coming from Wells also would require the mayor to have the D.C. Department of Transportation evaluate speed limits throughout the District. Many residents have complained that speed limits are too low in some areas and have not kept pace with changing commuter patterns.

The legislation additionally would earmark 50 percent of photo enforcement revenue to be spent on traffic safety initiatives.

Wells introduced the legislation along with Councilmembers Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, and Marion Barry, D-Ward 8. Wells and Cheh co-chaired a task force on photo enforcement.

Wells says he hopes the council will be able to pass the new legislation before the end of the year.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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