Dear PoPville – What’s the Deal with Warning Tickets for Speeding?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

Dear PoPville,

i can’t possibly be the only person to have recently been slammed with several hundred dollars worth of citations from the new speed camera on the 7700 block of 16th street.

from mpdc’s website:
“Will warning tickets be issued?

Warning tickets from the mobile photo radar vehicles were issued in July 2001, as part of an initial 30-day period of public education. Since then, the mobile cameras have issued actual NOIs. As new photo radar applications are implemented – for example, fixed-camera or work zone locations – warning tickets only will be issued for 30 days.”

this implies that a newly installed fixed camera requires a 30 day period during which warnings will be issued for violations, rather than citations. i’ve been in contact with muriel bowser’s office over the past week, attempting to find out the date the camera was installed. mpd seems to be claiming that the warning period took place in 2007, when a temporary, non-fixed camera was at that location. i find it unreasonable that a warning period five years ago be considered a legitimate “warning” that should cover the current camera installation.

i get the sense that the person i’ve been communicating with in muriel bowser’s office does want to help, but she has thus far been unable to find out the precise date the camera was installed. i am perfectly capable of being a nuisance all on my own, but since i personally know
several other people who have been affected, it stands to reason that this is a pretty widespread issue.

52 Comment

  • “slammed with several hundred dollars worth of citations from the new speed camera on the 7700 block of 16th street”…..

    slow down around that block. that should curb the tickets.

    • You misread the post. The OP isn’t complaining about tickets they will receive in the future, but tickets they received in the past — which would presumably fall under the 30 day rule.

      The idea would seem to be if DC is going to charge $150/ticket, they have to offer fair warning when a new camera is installed. In my mind, this would alleviate the burden of expensive tickets on the non-lawyers and non- other high income earners of DC. For someone making $40k/year, 5 tickets are about 2.5% of their net income. Why would we want to tax non-high income earners a significant chunk of their take home pay for non-reckless speeding?

      If they implemented the warning system, people would still adopt slower driving habits (albeit for short periods of time). We’d only have to wait another 30 days. Give normal people a grace period, so they don’t rack up exorbitant bills in the time between ticketing and the time it takes to mail a ticket.

      • This is 100% right. In addition, I require 30 days warning for each location in which a police cruiser will set up with a radar gun to catch speeders. After all, expensive tickets are a burden, and I am entitled to fair warning that the cops intend to enforce universally known laws that have been on the books for decades.

        Wait – that’s ridiculous. Never mind.

        • You also didn’t bother to read the original post. Let me summarize it for you, and we’ll see if you still disagree:

          The city’s policy is to have a 30 day warning period for *all* new cameras. OP received many tickets in a short period from a single new camera. There was no 30 day warning period for this camera — unless you count one time 5 years ago when the city put a temporary camera there for a short period of time.

          OP wants to contest on this basis.

          Still disagree?

          P.S. I know it’s really fun to shout each other down here, but let’s at least listen to what others are saying first.

          • ah

            Did the speed limit change during that time?

            The same rule applies to traffic signs. If the cops haven’t enforced a stop sign for five years, they shouldn’t have to rewarn everyone that the stop sign means stop.

          • Have the people who seem to think any minute violation of the law is worthy of a massive fine ever driven a car in your life? Do you realize that these infractions are being given out for going like 10mph over in 25mph zones? This is not fast or dangerous at all.

          • “ah”, the city’s policy is to have a 30 day warning period for all fixed cameras. If that’s their stated policy — one which they share with the public — they should enforce it, regardless.

            The warnings are not in place because of the law, but because of the cost of the fines. These fines are high enough that they could impose hardship on middle class people — look at the OP’s example. If that person is an average income earner, they’re being set back quite a bit. The financial hardship is disproportionate to the crime.

          • ah

            tresluxe-I realize what the law/policy is, and it seems they’ve complied with it. The program has identified a number of locations and it’s pretty clear they rotate enforcement through those locations. It’s pretty meaningless if a gap in actual enforcement means they have to rewarn everyone.

          • OK, but in fairness, I don’t know exactly what (if anything) the OP is asking of us (PoPville.) There’s no question in there as far as I can see, it’s just the OP sharing their experience with us the readers, so I think it’s okay for folks to address whatever aspect of the issue they see fit.

          • my intention was to bring other people’s attention to the fact that any tickets issued during december are in violation of mpd’s policy of providing a 30 day warning period. as i said, i’m capable of contesting my own tickets, but i know many people are likely to simply accept the fine and pay it to avoid further issues.

            additionally, i just got a response from muriel bowser’s office: the camera was installed november 28th. therefore, any tickets issued prior to december 28th should be invalid.

          • “ah”, re-read the OP’s letter. It applies to fixed, not roving cameras. “gdop”, read the title of this post. That’s the question posed to the community.

      • wouldn’t the ticket be your first warning? i mean, SEVERAL tickets at the same location? c’mon.

        • Think it through. It takes maybe 2 weeks for the ticket to get mailed to you. In that time, someone can rack up many tickets.

          If the 30 day warning period is enforced, then the person has a chance to receive a warning ticket.

  • The machine has been installed for well over a month… though I’m not sure if its been operating the whole time. I’ve been astonished how many people have been getting pinged by it despite the brand new “photo enforced” signs on the blocks before and after it.

  • Dear PoPville,
    I was caught breaking the law and have therefore been fined for my infractions. What gives?

    • I have a friend who lived near me in MtP and had to drive to work in MD. He racked up thousands in speeding tickets from the 16th St cameras, and thousands in parking tickets because he was too lazy to park legally a block from his building. He was furious at DC for giving him these tickets. We just laughed at him and said, “You’re an idiot. Stop speeding by the known cameras and park in a legal spot.” He never understood our point of view.

    • +100

      amazing how people who break the law somehow think they get a ‘get out of jail free’ pass.

      if i get a speeding ticket, i pay it. does it suck? yes. do i hate paying for it? yes. tough bananas, i did it and i should pay the consequences.

  • Agree with other posters that the solution is just to slow down.

    However radar/camera setups are bogus and should be illegal.

  • sunsquashed

    You might want to slow down. There is an elementary school near that block.

  • i just received a ticket from that block for $125. those cameras got installed recently, and there are signs, but the cameras are hidden behind boxes. i think the cameras happen to be in a terrible spot… on a major downhill! without even pressing on the gas, i go over 40mph… meaning i would have to break the whole way on a down hill to stay under 30mph. i think the fines are way too high, but i’ve learned my lesson and will slow the eff down on that block.

    • ah

      Perhaps such a place is just where you should monitor your speed particularly carefully. If you need the brakes to keep your speed down, imagine how much you’d need them if some maniac pulls out in front of you or a kid chases her ball across the street?

  • There’s nothing sneaky about the location. All speed camera and red light camera locations are listed on the MPD website. Check in with that page periodically, and you should be okay.

  • Just do like everyone else does where there is a speed camera – slam on your breaks, cause a traffic jam, and then gun it as soon as you’re out of range. Win win for all, amirite!?

    • Love that. It’s a 25 MPH zone, so I think I’ll just throttle down to around 10 MPH and creep through this speed trap… good thing no one’s behind me!

    • Yeah – because you get credit toward future tickets for going UNDER the speed limit, right?!? Oy – it drive me nuts when people slow to a crawl. You are actually allowed to do the full speed limit. Just keep driving!

  • Just a quick note: most speeding is not as serious as grandstanding commenters on this blog like to claim.

  • Speed smarter. Smartly. Smartlier?

  • I’m not sure what’s more annoying, the OP’s complaint, or the fact that the OP doesn’t seem to know the rule about capitalizing the first letter of every sentence.

  • This is purely about raising shitloads of money for D.C., so unfortunately they won’t be going away.

    • They could close the deficit if they put a camera to catch people turning at 7th & H NW. Same with people ignoring the red turn lights off of 15th Street.

      • em

        +1000 – I see people making illegal turns at 7th and H at least every other time I walk or drive through that intersection.

        • creatures of habit… it wasn’t always illegal to turn there and i’m not sure why it’s illegal now… not sure what purpose an illegal RIGHT turn serves… the droves of people walking across the street isn’t THAT bad

    • Given a choice between more speed cameras with higher fines and higher income tax, I’ll choose the cameras every time. There’s a foolproof strategy to avoid speeding and red light fines.

    • No it’s not. There are crosswalks along that section which NO drivers ever stop for pedestrians in. On top of that there are synagogues, with plenty of people walking to and from. You’d notice if you’d slow the eff down.

  • Someone, somewhere is currently playing the worlds smallest violin.

  • I think you need to contest these tickets because they’re clearly unconstitutional.

    Virginia used to have camera ticketing, and I believe the Virginia Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.

    According to the Constitution, you have two rights:
    – You are innocent until PROVEN guilty, and
    – You cannot be compelled to testify against yourself or anyone else

    This ticketing process operates under the assumption that as the owner you ARE guilty, and that the only way out is to give the name of someone else who was operating the car.

    If the police want to do this the constitutional way, they need to get off their butts, pull the car over, identify the driver and personally cite that individual for speeding. But that would require them to work..god forbid.

    • You are innocent until proven guilty of a criminal offense. A speeding (to a point) is not a criminal offense.

      • It’s only a criminal offense if you are caught and ticketed by an actual police officer. They get around the speed camera thing by calling it a civil offense. As in a camera citation is equal to a parking ticket.

      • It’s a civil offense, not a criminal one. The Constitution does not apply until you refuse to pay it and a bench warrant gets issued for your asshat-ery.

        • Prince Of Petworth

          Please make an effort to be civil. Calling people asshats is not acceptable. Thanks for understanding.

          • In fairness, I took LLW to mean that the asshat in question is a hypothetical person who refuses to pay a ticket and therefore gets a bench warrant issued for him/her; not Joel, who is just woefully wrong about a basic point of Constitutional law.

  • Ah, my favorite topic of discussion. I’ll just add that of all the drivers I know who legitimately try (noone is perfect) to observe posted speed limits in DC not a single one has received a speeding ticket (camera or otherwise.)

  • I just got a warning from a newly installed camera on Foxhall Road/Whitehaven Pkwy (34 in a 25). However, it took ~3 weeks post- infraction to receive the warning, so the intention of the warning for the first 30 days becomes moot when it takes so long to send them out. But I did appreciate getting a warning rather than a ticket!

    Not sure how up-to-date this is, the one I mentioned above is not on the list:,a,1240,q,547991,mpdcNav_GID,1552,mpdcNav,|31886|.asp

  • I actually got a letter that the ticket I would have gotten for speeding was voided (or whatever term they used) because technical issues meant that I didn’t get the ticket in the allotted 30 days. Dodged a bullet there! Thankfully I don’t travel on that road all that often but glad to know one is there for future reference.

  • Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.


    The Law.

  • I got a $125.00 ticket for going 43 in a 30 mile zone on the stretch of Porter Street that goes over Rock Creek Park. I totally understand that I was over the speed limit, but $125.00 on a stretch of Rock Creek Park where there are no pedestrians, no bike riders, no moms with kids in strollers??? The City has to make money somehow but I just thought $125.00 was an extremely excessive amount for the location and the speed I was going. The next weekend I went the same way and saw the camera in the median strip of the bridge. I made sure to stay under 30 miles an hour but my car is barely moving. Again, I understand the need for speed limits and tickets but $125.00 for that area is just the City robbing it’s own citizens.

    • I know I am at fault for this. I received 3 tickets as well from the same camera in the month of January @ $125 each. Lessons learned 🙁

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