Dear PoP – Beware Speeding Trap at 2600 block of Porter St NW

Speed trap near guerrilla art we looked at back in Nov. ’10.

“Dear PoP,

A few weeks ago I got a speeding ticket on the 2600(ish) block of Porter St NW. The officer claims I was doing 48 mph in a 30 mph. I was heading downhill east towards Columbia Heights. I recognize I *may* have been doing more than the posted 30 mph. In fact, I wasn’t even aware what the speed limit was. I got the ticket which included a lot of officer attitude and went on my way. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I encountered 3 (yes, 3) other people who all received 48 mph in a 30 mph by the same officer in the same area over the last 2 month period.

Coincidence? Maybe. Speed trap? Certainly. I can’t help to wonder if the officer issued tickets for 48 mph which may be the max limit…20+ over the speed limit is wreckless driving. 18 over probably carries the highest penalty for a speeding ticket- $150.

Have other folks in PoPville received similiar tickets? Do you advise I show up in court to try and get it reduced?”

81 Comment

  • It’s the bottom of one of the steepest hills in town. People are constantly speeding there. If I was an officer charged with writing speeding tickets, I would hang out there too!

    I would probably also put a speed camera (and not just a light that turns red) to catch people speeding further up the hill towards Reno.

    • For years there was a speed camera in front of 2501 Porter, either a standalone unit, or a unit inside a police cruiser.

  • Don’t want speeding tickets? Stop speeding.

    • I came in here to post this. People who complain about about getting caught breaking the law don’t get any sympathy from me.

      • Unless of course its bikers or pedestrians breaking the law, right?

        Give me a break. If you drive a car and you dont speed, you’re a liar. If you dont drive a car and you think speeding is such a black and white issue, you just live in your own little world.

        • I’m not a liar. I unfortunately have to drive every day to work. I have a 60 mile round trip commute. Never gotten a speeding ticket in my life, and I don’t speed. The trick? The speed limit is the MAXIMUM speed you can go… not the minimum.

          • Not a liar then, but definitely naive and wasteful when it comes to your own time.

          • YOU ARE A LIAR!!! I do not believe, and I doubt anyone would EVER believe, that you’ve never gone above the speed limit. Sure you can hide behind the claim that you didnt say you NEVER have sped, you just say “I dont speed”. However, the combination of “Ive never gotten a ticket” and “I dont speed” is lying by implication. You have sped, every driver has, and I call bullshit. Repeatedly.

            I havent gotten a speeding ticket since i was a teenager and I admit I frequently go a modest amount above the speed limit.

        • Don’t speed and have never received a ticket here. Why is is so hard to believe people obey the laws.

          Does going 1 or 2 or 3 mph over the limit speeding – sure but not a violation that deserves a ticket.

          Grandma Driver here and I plan to keep it that way. You just happened to be lucky.

      • Given that “speed traps” are frequently created to generate revenue through articially low speed limits, I think that you may be being a little unfair. And, if you don’t equate “speeding” with “more than 10 miles over the speed limit” (and I assume you don’t given your attitude toward breaking the law), I want no part of you on the streets of DC . . . bc you are more of a hazard than the “speeders.”

        • You should note that there have been multiple commenters on other similar posts that have said 1mph over is an inappropriate violation of the law and should be aggressively prosecuted.

          It makes me think there are a lot more people who have never driven than I had ever thought.

        • There is no such thing as an “artificially low speed limit” in DC. There are only drivers with a massively inflated sense of entitlement.

          • Yes, as a driver, I feel entitled to not be forced to drive on a road that is intentionally made to be inconvenient through creative timing of lights, reckless bikers, poor sightlines at intersections, and YES, speed limits that are far below necessary.

            Stop acting like drivers are your enemy. Its rather irritating.

        • Please see some of the comments below to appreciate what I mean re: “artificial.” For a speed to be appropriate, it should be based on the surrounding cicumstances, such as traffic, sight lines, likelihood of pedestrian-crossings, etc. Speed traps are usually based on catching people who are not necessarily aggressive drivers but are going faster than the speed limit by mistake, such as at the bottom of a hill.

          • . . . or even more likely– a sudden and unexpected dip in speed limit for the purpose of generating revenue.

          • ah

            A mistake like that is carelessness, not a “trap”.

            Going downhill fast is more dangerous than going uphill fast because gravity won’t help slow you down as much.

            BTW, I speed, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But not 48 in a 30. Not 41 in a 30 either.

  • Did you ask to see the radar gun? You have a right to. Otherwise I don’t really see what grounds you would have to fight it in court, especially considering that you didn’t know your speed or the speed limit at the time.

    Here’s a novel idea – travel the speed limit. Why is it that people who are busted (rightfully, it seems) for breaking the law see it necessary to write into POP and complain?

  • There is also a speed trap car that parks at the corner of Park Pl. NW and Manor Pl NW ( The car is either an unmarked maroon or grey Ford Edge.

    I received a similar ticket for going 19 mph over the speed limit.

    The DC MPD department publishes the location of their ‘Automated Speed Enforcement Locations’ however it not is 100% accurate:,a,1240,q,547991,mpdcNav_GID,1552,mpdcNav,%7C31886%7C.asp

  • I didn’t realize the speed limit was 30mph there. if I had my way it would be 25. the difference between 25mph and 30mph is substantial when it comes to pedestrian/cyclist fatalities.

  • Maybe you were doing more than 20+ the speed limit since you have no idea, and the officer cut you a break so you don’t have a reckless ticket?

    Try this: slow down.

  • I know it’s harder to maintain a constant low speed while going down a steep hill, but (speaking purely from a safety perspective) that doesn’t mean you SHOULD be going faster down it. And it’s not like it’s impossible to slow down, either– just lay on the brakes.

  • The best part about the DC DMV is that while you may get your 100$ speeding ticket overturned, you’ll get an even better $250 ticket when your parking meter in front of the court expires, and you likely won’t get paid and lose a perfectly good day (spent inside of that horrible courthouse) for your troubles.

    That being said, its important to contest the ticket if it saves you points on your driving record, otherwise your insurance company gets your money instead of the DC government (They need to buy luxury SUVs for council reps a whole lot more than your insurance company does).

  • Reckless.
    No W.
    Wreckless is not an alternate spelling, nor a word.

  • 1) The speed limit is clearly marked on that stretch of road, though few people actually stick to it there.

    2) Automobiles are equipped with braking mechanisms to counteract the acceleration caused by gravity when traveling downhill.

    3) You mean “reckless”. Wreckless driving is what happens when you don’t speed (well, more likely anyway).

    4) If you weren’t aware of the speed limit I would bet you also weren’t aware of how fast you were actually going.

    5) I advise you pay the fine, make yourself aware of the speed limits in the places where you drive and follow them.

    (I know I sound like a dick but this stuff drives me nuts. You agreed to follow the rules of the road when you got your driver’s license, and then you didn’t follow the rules of the road, and you got nabbed. It happens.)

    • I’m a driver and have gotten a speeding ticket before, and I agree 100%. I think it’s obnoxious to tie up the court’s time with a case that sounds pretty cut-and-dry.

  • this has been a speed trap since forever.

  • The speed limit in DC is 25 mph unless otherwise marked. Porter is marked as 30, and has been a speed trap for years. Ride your brakes going down that hill and heading up it from RC Parkway.

  • They have been working that spot for years (and notice end of the month quotos are related) The low speed limit is meaningless there, nevermind it’s the perfect expressway to get uptown in minutes vs Connecticut Ave – LOL

    Tired old tune..but I gave up having a car years ago. Tickets are a understood expense here. How many cabs rides are possible with just one ticket- The math just works for me. I also really enjoy the bus these days.

    Marion, I hope to sit next to you on the 32 soon now that you’ve been booted. I’ve got some great ideas for you.

    • “How many cabs rides are possible with just one ticket- The math just works for me.”

      It may work for you, but you’re supporting a lot of racist, sexist, and homophobic law-breakers by taking cabs. Just stick to the bus and metro.

  • To the previous posters: The OP asked for advice on how to address the speeding ticket, not about whether he should speed or not.

    I suggest that you contest the ticket with an explanation, go to the hearing for it, and ‘respectfully request that you pay the entire fine but clear your record’.

    I have done this twice in DC for speeding tickets at over 20 mph over the posted speed and it works, as long as you are respectful and polite. The guys who work there are not treated very well so your a good attitude goes a long way.

    • I gave my advice on how to address the speeding ticket.

      And I think it’s a shame that city resources are tied up dealing with folks who get caught breaking the law and want special treatment.

    • To the previous posters: The OP asked for advice on how to address the speeding ticket, not about whether he should speed or not.

      Ah, excellent point.

      OP: STFU and pay the ticket.

  • I don’t think the OP is actually complaining. Wouldn’t you be curious too if you ran into other people who got tickets for going the exact same speed in one area with the same cop? Considering how the District has been doing with calibrating its tools, it’s fair to want to go to court. If nothing else he could get his points reduced and pay a heavier fine rather than have his insurance company beat him up for it for the next few years.

  • The only reason I’ll extend any sympathy to OP is because unless you are actively paying attention to your rapidly accelerating car on that hill and either brake or downshift, there is NO WAY you will stay under 30 mph. Even bikers are pretty likely to break 30 there

    That said, they’ve been doing tickets there forever for that reason – 1) it’s easy pickins and 2) people are often driving dangerously fast by the bottom of the hill.

    Another place with a similar situation is Piney Branch Rd, heading down from Arkansas into Rock Creek Park. They’ll often hide in/behind the bridge, and the speed from the hill makes it hard to stay 25mph unless you’re really trying hard.

    I got dinged heading south from Woodley into Dupont on Connecticut a few months back while crossing the bridge. Big stretch of straight road, no cars turning in/out, very easy to speed up without realizing it. Cop was located in such a way that you couldn’t see him until it was too late – learned my lesson there.

    While the limits can be a bit low in places, remember that it’s ultimately for your safety and the safety of other drivers.

    • “While the limits can be a bit low in places, remember that it’s ultimately for your safety and the safety of other drivers.”

      Not really. In most instances, these speed traps are established in areas where the limits are ridiculously low for the circumstances (six lane divided roadway, wide sidewalks for pedestrians, long straight stretches with unobstructed sightlines), and with the speed limit often unposted (since the default is 25 mph) to generate revenue for the political jurisdiction. It has nothing to do with safety.

      • “In most instances,” huh?

        This is not a six-lane divided roadway, it is four lanes, undivided, with off-peak parking (so two lanes off-peak). There is a sidewalk on one side with overgrown trees covering it and an incomplete sidewalk on the other side. The trees go a bit into the roadway, so no, the sightlines are not unobstructed. The speed limit is posted as 30, though the default, as you said, is 25.

        • Yes, in MOST instances, speed traps are set up in places where the normal (and perfectly safe) flow of traffic is higher than the posted (or not posted) speed limit. Including Porter St. If you can’t safely negotiate this stretch of Porter at 35-45 mph, you have no business operating a car at all.

          The number of self-righteous pricks on your site has really reached a ridiculous level, PoP.

    • ah

      If you’re not “actively paying attention” to your speed, then what are you doing while driving? Texting? Calling someone? Cars have speedometers. they are there to confirm your speed is under the speed limit, or at least not exceeding it by 60%.

  • “While the limits can be a bit low in places, remember that it’s ultimately for your safety and the safety of other drivers”

    Don’t want to join the “Mean Team” here…but I’ve lived here a long time. My take is it’s just a revenue stream. Tickets used to be the #2 source of income for the city, I’ve think I read it had moved down a notch, but it’s a huge $$thang. These SUV’s are an expensive necessity for our folks, and You are going to pay for them

    • Tickets are not a “huge source” of income for the district.

      FY 2008:
      Property Taxes: $1718 Million
      Sales Taxes: $820 Million
      Income Taxes: $1755 Million
      Gross Receipts Taxes: $254 Million
      Other Taxes: $326 Million
      Non-Tax Revenue: $385 Million

      Of that Non-Tax Revenue, $99 Million was “fines & forfeits,” and only SOME of that is tickets. So even if you cut into big chunks it’s not even in the top 5.

  • Ha! I got a 50 in a 30 at this exact spot two weeks ago. I paid it, because I probably was going 50.

    Pay up. It’s a small price to pay. In Switzerland, speeding fines are based on your income!

    • Be grateful it isn’t Fairfax. I got two tickets the first week I moved there– one for going over the 20 mph speed limit (along with everyone else on the road) and one for allegedly not pulling over for the cop. I admitted my guilt for the speeding ticket since I was fully in the wrong, but asked politely if the second ticket could be dismissed since I did pull over immediately (not to mention my driving record was squeaky clean). No luck– the judge actually said that since I still had NJ plates at the time I must be a reckless driving who ignores authority.

  • Why is everyone on this board so damn cranky?! The person got a speeding ticket and wanted to warn others about the area. (Thanks, by the way!) Besides, if the holier-than-thou posters on here seriously expect me to believe that they’ve never gone above 25 mph while traveling downhill, then I call bullshit. I certainly agree that speeding can be dangerous. But come on, folks.

    • For those who can’t read between the lines, it isn’t the fact that this guy was speeding.

      It is the “waaaa how can I get out this?” whiny BS from someone who not only admitted they had no idea how fast they were going, but also had no idea what the speed limit is (it is well posted on Porter on that hill).

      I mean, gimme a break. How childish and pathetic do you have to be? You admitted you were well in the wrong and you still have to cry about it.

      Act like an adult, admit you were caught, pay your dues and move on with your life. Instead, you will run down to court and make the rest of us pay for the inflated cost of the judicial system so you can try to whine your way out of a justified ticket.

      Yes, everyone speeds and ~5-10 mph over isn’t anything to really get into a frenzy over, but ~20 mph over is ridiculous. The cop seems to be doing everyone a favor by not giving them 20 over, because reckless driving is a pretty serious charge resulting in mandatory driving classes, fines, tons of points and skyrocketing car insurance.

  • Speed traps suck. I regularly spend time being a pedestrian, biker, and driver on the DC streets. As long as drivers are aware of their surroundings, stop for all cross walks, and are courteous to bikers, going a few mph over the speed limit isn’t always a safety issue.

    As for the question from the OP- if you have a clean driving record go ahead and go to court. Tell the judge you really didn’t think you were going that fast and that it was a mistake if you were. Most likely you will get the points dropped and may even get the fine reduced. best case-scenario is that the cop won’t show up and you will be considered not-guilty 🙂 Go ahead and clog up the court system, it’s in your best interest… and America has this little thing called “Traffic Court” gotta love this country 🙂

    Speeding tickets happen to even the best drivers, lighten up everyone!

    • Unless traffic court works differently than it does in Fairfax County (see my comment above) I doubt the OP will accomplish anything aside from a wasted work day by going to court…

      • Hmm, I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket in DC. My only ticket was in MD and almost everyone there got “Probation Before Judgment” and had their points dropped if it was a first offense. This is if you plead guilty with an explanation. The fines in MD are higher ($250) but I guess maybe it’s easier to get out of the points.

  • By the way, what the heck are those red logs at the bottom of the hill on Porter all about?

  • Am I the only person who read the headline of this thread, saw the accompanying picture, and thought that this was going to be about a speed camera hidden in that freaky red wooden sculpture dealie in the median?

  • Marcus Aurelius – nope!

  • This reminds me of a similar but unrelated thing I was wondering about: The other day I was parking on 7th St. NW in Chinatown around 7:30pm. I ran up to the sign to check the restrictions, and saw that it was 2-hour paid parking through 6:30. Thinking I was ok (though admittedly surprised they didn’t require me to pay past 6:30) I didn’t pay for my parking at the pay station. What I didn’t see were the skinny white letters inside the “decorative” dark green stripe at the bottom of the sign which read “Unlimited paid parking 6:30-10pm”.

    Now, I’m not complaining or trying to get out of it (I paid my ticket the very next day), but doesn’t it seem like they intentionally placed that text on the sign so it would be difficult to notice and read?

    • This EXACT same thing happened to me around 14th and U the other week. I paid my ticket too, but I think those signs are INCREDIBLY misleading and confusing. (I don’t consider myself to be a stupid person and the parking enforcement officer had to explain it to me twice before I even understood what he was talking about.) I’ve thought about writing somewhere and asking them to clarify and make those signs more noticeable, but I sadly don’t think it’ll get me anywhere.

  • sounds mean but… glad you got caught! every time i see a speeder pulled over i get a little chuckle.

    also — i am a little surprised PoP would post this. PoP do you support helping people escape penalties they otherwise would face for breaking the law?

    Speeding is a serious offense… thousands of pedestrians and bikers get killed every year by speeders. Lets help the cops catch speeders, not make it harder for them to do their job.

    • I don’t think the OP intent is to escape penalty. I read it as a note to point out a speed trap to keep everyone safe.

      People should contest tickets and have someone hear their case. That’s why we have a trial system. Not everyone who is arrested is convicted of the crime they’re arrested for.

    • Pedestrians killed by cars number at just about 4000/yr nationwide. How many are a direct result of speeding? Certainly less than 4000. So lets not exaggerate the dangers that pedestrians face as a result of cars. Yes, there are THOUSANDS killed, but out of a population of 300million, its not an epidemic. Even if you took all urban pedestrian deaths and compared them to the urban population in this country, you wouldnt be close to making the point you’re trying to make, which is that speed enforcement should be a top priority of law enforcement in order to make society safer.

  • Also, one last observation: the idea that “just going 5-10 mph over the limit is okay” is horseshit. A pedestrian has an 85 percent chance of death when involved in a motor/vehicle collision at 40 mph, a 45 percent chance of death at 30 mph, and a 5 percent chance of death at 20 mph.

    No, 5-10 mph doesn’t make a difference–if you’re in a car.

    Slow the fuck down.

    • Your anti-car bullshit is getting old.

      It is rare that during the average driving condition that a car hits a pedestrian without applying brakes. The stopping distance for a modern car from 30mph and from 40mph isnt THAT much different.

      If you think that 5-10mph poses more of a risk to lives than bikers do (mostly bikers pose a risk to their own lives) than you are sadly deluded.

      • “Your anti-car bullshit is getting old.”

        Seriously. Whenever I see “Dr Pangloss” I have a pretty good idea of what his comment will be.

      • Actually, the stopping distance is fairly significant. On average, stoping distance at 40 mph is 164 feet, and at 30 mph is 109 feet. 20 yards can easily be the difference between a serious collision and a near miss.

        • ah

          The difference between 40 and 30 can easily be the difference between giving birth in a hospital and giving birth on the Beltway.

          • There are exceptions to speeding that I think are acceptable, and labor is one of them.

            Being a lawmaker douchebag, late for a meeting to figure out how to fleece taxpayers, is not a reason to speed.

            I would think that 5-10% of speeders have a legit reason for doing so while the remainder are just a-holes.

    • ah

      I think we should mandate that everyone drive around in big marshmallows at 5mph. Death is very unlikely, except from diabetes.

    • And a .1% chance of death if the car isn’t moving at all. Interesting statistics, but irrelevant.

      Speed limits, even when set for safety purposes, aren’t set based on the risk of mortality or amount of grievous bodily injury to the pedestrian if a 1.5 ton metal and fiberglass car strikes a mushy human body. It is based on whether the car can safely navigate the road given all conditions, including lighting, intersections, curves, the prevalence of other cars or pedestrians legally crossing the street, sidewalks available for pedestrians,and two wheeled conveyances sharing the road in a legal manner.

  • Wow, you all make my cranky grandma look jovial. I bet the same people who are waving those rulers to smack his knuckles are the cyclists who blow through stop signs, the pedestrians who enter a crosswalk when there’s 4 seconds left to cross the 6 lane road.

    “No, not me! harumph harumph harumph…”

    • Please refer to my “10% rule”; i.e., 10% of any group (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, cops, etc.) are douchebags and make the rest of their demographic look bad.

      I think most drivers do so within reason (maybe 0-5 mph over the limit), but the meatsack in the BMW SUV, blowing by everyone at +25, weaving in and out of traffic makes everyone hate drivers.

      Similarly, most cyclists are responsible, but the few Lance Armstrong wannabes make everyone hate cyclists. I think most pedestrians are pretty responsible except for the iZombies, but really the worst offenders are homeless and unemployed, who really just don’t give a f*ck.

  • Wow, this thread is full of a bunch of self-righteous douchebags.

  • Be thankful you aren’t in college park md. They’re really going after people up there. I know someone who went through a camera trap every day for two weeks without realizing it. The tickets started to arrive.iP

  • @ah Did you not read the OP? Three other people got tickets for 48 in a 30…just high enough to generate the highest ticket, but low enough to not require a court appearance. And the inference was the OP did not ask to see the radar gun (a mistake). Read between the lines. The cop made up the number. He saw someone “speeding” down the hill and pulled them over and said “you were going 48 MPH.” It’s a revenue-generating scam. This is why I prefer cops to speed cameras. While the cameras are notorious for being calibrated incorrectly to generate more tickets, MPD Officers are known liars, and as such are almost easier to beat in court if you ask to see the radar gun and record their bullshit word for word.

  • Ah– I refuse to play semantics with someone who doesn’t know that periods go inside quotation marks (here in America, anyway).

  • Having been hospitalized by a speeding driver when I was 10 (he was speeding and ran a red light, almost killing my mother and sister as well), I am a very cautious driver.

    People who claim they speed because their time is valuable should realize that they really aren’t that important. Plus, exceeding the limit by 10mph over a 20 mile trip really doesn’t save you that much time, and the risk outweighs the benefit.

    By the way, speaking of self-righteousness, one of my favorite things to do is get on the Rock Creek Parkway and set my cruise control to 25 mph (the posted limit) and watch the MD drivers behind me pile up and start freaking out. Good times! Even better, get behind a cyclist, give them 20 feet and refuse to pass on the left; the drivers behind me love it.

    • If you enjoy being in people’s way while on the roadway, your “caution” has mutated into “rataliation against people who have never done you any harm.”

    • So was it the fact he was speeding? Or the fact that he ran the red light and hit you because you were in the middle of the intersection?

      Must have been the speed.

      Regarding your conduct on the RCR, you sound like a real first class douche bag.

  • The point that everyone on here seems to have missed isn’t that the poster wasn’t ranting about there being a posted speed limit or that this person may have violated that and was caught. The point is that poster knows of four people (including him/herself) received a ticket for the exact same speed by the exact same officer during the same timeframe which happens to be the same MPH to carry the highest fine possible.

    The poster wants to know “is this a coincidence? Or have others also received speeding tickets in this area by the same officer for going 48 MPH?” Because if it is the latter and they weren’t going 48 MPH, then something here is fishy. Which is why he/she wants to know what to do about it.

    Why you’re all talking about the merits of speeding or lack thereof misses the point of the question.

    • True. But the fact that the OP has no idea how fast he was going makes his question pointless. He’s not denying he was doing 48. He can’t say whether he was going 31 or 49. So his inference of foul play is irrelevant, no?

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