HYATTSVILLE, Md. – John Bressler, who came to WTOP Ticketbuster to complain about a confusing speed camera in College Park, was found guilty in District Court on Wednesday, but a judge suspended all fines associated with the ticket.
Bressler received the $40 ticket in the 3300 block of Metzerott Road in late July for travelling 42 mph in a 30 mph zone. However, a WTOP investigation found the camera was placed about 40 yards from a 40 mph speed limit sign and 160 yards from the nearest 30 mph sign. Two speed camera officials in Maryland told WTOP that such a camera location was unfair and would not have been acceptable in their jurisdictions.
Bressler submitted articles from the WTOP Ticketbuster investigation plus statements from College Park City Manager Joseph Nagro to Judge Thomas Love. He argued that because College Park already moved the camera, it meant the city acknowledged the camera was confusing and potentially unfair.
“I am happy the judge seemed to be receptive my case and suspicious about the placement of this camera,” says Bressler.
Love questioned the City of College Park representative about the new location, then found Bressler guilty, saying that legally Bressler cannot increase his speed until he physically crosses the plane of the sign denoting a higher speed limit.
But Love also suspended all fines and court costs associated with the ticket and hearing, citing “technicalities” raised from our stories and that the camera has already been moved to another location.
“I’m sure he just felt his hands were tied and he had to find me guilty. But I think he saw the common sense element of my case and that’s why he decided to waive all the fines and court costs,” says Bressler.
The judge seemed unsympathetic to the argument about whether the camera was in a legally defined Institute of Higher Education zone. Under Maryland law, Prince George’s County jurisdictions can place cameras within a half mile of universities and colleges. Love also was not sympathetic with the State Highway Administration guidelines recommending against putting cameras in speed transition zones, saying that’s an opinion that is not legally binding.
However, both opinions are moot because Love suspended the fine and College Park fixed both issues when it moved the camera to St. Andrews Place earlier this month.
As for Bressler, his case is over and his wallet is full.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with WTOP that they were able to get the camera moved. I would have loved to get the ‘not guilty,’ but I’m happy that the judge met me halfway,” he says.
College Park City Manager Joseph Nagro and City Attorney Suellen Fergueson did not respond to WTOP for comment on the ruling.
If you think you’re the victim of a bogus speed camera, red light camera or parking ticket in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, WTOP may be able to help you cut the red tape. Send us your case along with documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org.