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Photo Enforcement Speeding Fines Reduced Effective Monday

by Prince Of Petworth November 2, 2012 at 11:10 am 19 Comments

From the Mayor’s office:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and District Department of Transportation Director (DDOT) Terry Bellamy today announced a regulatory fix to the District’s Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) program that will improve the fairness of speeding fines while improving public safety.

“For months since the Metropolitan Police Department put more photo-enforcement vehicles on the street to reduce speeding, decrease traffic fatalities and make things safer for all motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, we’ve received lots of feedback —some of it good and some of it bad,” Mayor Gray said. “So, today I am announcing that, effective on Monday, there will be adjustments in the ATE program that we believe will improve fairness while continuing to ensure and improve public safety.”

The changes to the program include decreasing fines on less-dangerous violations of speed laws and increasing fines on the most flagrant violators:

· Violators caught speeding up to 10 miles per hour over the limit will be fined $50 instead of the current $75;

· Violators caught speeding 11 to 15 miles per hour over the limit will now be fined $100 rather than the current $125; and

· Violators caught speeding more than 25 miles per hour in excess of the limit will receive a higher fine of $300 instead of the current $250 fine.

“We believe this strikes the right balance between ensuring the safety of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and those who live on thoroughfares while also making the system fairer for those whose violations are less dangerous than the most flagrant speeders,” Mayor Gray said.

The changes will be implemented through the Department of Motor Vehicles’ regulatory authority, which means they will not require legislation and can take effect quickly.

In addition, Mayor Gray said, the administration is instituting two other changes to improve the ATE system. DDOT engineers will study the safety of altering speed limits in areas where improvements to roadways may enable changes without compromising safety. And Mayor Gray will propose emergency legislation that will dedicate a portion of revenues from the ATE program to hiring 100 new police officers, bringing the Metropolitan Police force up to 4,000 officers.

  • sg

    does that mean that if you just paid a $125 ticket you can get $25 back somehow? if so. how?

    • Uh, no. The new fines don’t go into effect until Monday. If your violation occurred already then the new fines don’t apply, obviously.

    • Sg- I went to court this week for a photo enforcement ticket that had doubled and had it reduced to $75.00. There were four people in the office with me and the two ahead of me had their tickets reduced and I will bet that the last individual had her ticket reduced as well. If you have the time and you have a pretty good reason for why you were speeding or ran the red light, they will reduce it. The whole photo enforcement thing is set-up the way it is to keep you from going to court and just pay the ticket since there are no points.

  • Anonymous

    Big Brother is (still) Watching You.

    • Anonymous

      Uh, did you mean Big “Bro” is still watching you.

  • Anonymous

    I think this is reasonable. it may actually get more people to pay since there are folks who have the cash for the lower fines, but could not pay the higher amounts. Especially the $50 ticket.

    I just hope they keep on fining speeders as frequently as they have been. To me, it’s like dog training. You pull on the leash so they notice, you don’t yank the dogs head off.

    • jcm

      Nobody gets the $50 ticket, because they set the cameras to go of at 11 MPH over.

      Anyway, these seem like reasonable fines to me. I’ve been caught before, and it sucks, but it really has made me reduce my overall speed around the city.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve been perplexed by all the outcry about this (not on PoP, just generally in the news and whatnot). I mean, I get why people are upset about speeding tickets–they suck, and nobody wants to have to pay one. But the idea that the speed cameras and tickets are somehow “unfair” (a term I’ve heard often in complaints) is lost on me. (Especially if, as you say, there is some leniency or margin of error for those driving just a few miles over the limit.) I mean, unless there are issues with the photo enforcement malfunctioning or the speed limits not being properly posted, there is a REALLY simple way to avoid getting a speeding ticket.

        • psmitty

          I cannot speak for others, but there are a few things about speed cameras I do not like. For starters, the usual reaction to getting flashed by these cameras – or even if you catch site of what could be a camera out of the corner of your eye – is to slam on the brakes. This is never safe.

          My biggest issue is with the way the tickets are handled here. In Europe, if I get snapped, the picture MUST clearly show the driver’s face, not just the license plate. Granted, the fines and penalties are far more severe than here (which actually does make people slow down), but at least the system is a little more fair about who gets punished. Right now, I can take my buddy’s car, blast through a few cameras, and leave him with a huge bill. The law wouldn’t care. His car, his fault, and the city/state is going to teach him a lesson with a big, fat ticket. That doesn’t nail the offender, nor does it “teach a lesson” to the person getting a ticket. They did nothing wrong. As far as I know, there is no way to contest these tickets.

          My final issue isn’t one that happens a lot, but I have seen it in the DC Metro area. Roads that used to have one speed limit add a camera and drop the speed limit right before you pass the camera. That’s not a safety concern. That’s a trap.

          • washingtonian

            If by “take” you mean “steal” (not borrow) your friend’s car, there is a defense when your car is stolen at the time that tickets are incurred.

            I believe there may even be a defense for when another driver other than the owner is operating the vehicle, but I am not sure (and at work where I save Internet time for frolicking, not googling LOL).

          • ah

            It may have been changed, but it used to be you could respond by stating that you denied the offense because someone else was driving the car at the time. But you had to provide their name and contact information (which, presumably, you would have if you loaned them the car).

          • Anonymous


            I wanted to address some of your concerns. I don’t often use this as an argument, but what they do in Europe simply does not apply here in DC. In fact, what they do in Utah or Oklahoma or NYC doesn’t apply here, either, unless we are talking about federal laws. I say this not to be snarky but if you are in x locale, you need to follow the local laws for x location. You don’t have to like the laws. In parts of Europe, the speed limit is about translated to USA turf, about 120mph. If I were to carry that over to the highways here and zoom around at that speed because they do that in Europe, I’d be in trouble.

            As to snapping a photo of who is driving (face of driver), I’m not sure how you’d ever be able to track down x person based on face. Not sure if in Europe (do laws carry over from country to country or do they vary by country) they have a way to track down facial images and therefore are able to send a ticket based on face recognition. The point is that the license plate of the offending car will go back to the owner of the vehicle. In a way, it is that person’s responsibility still because if they are lending their car to irresponsible drivers well then it would be irresponsible. Owner of vehicle could also pass along the fine to borrowed driver if you want to get technical about it, though that could harm some friendships/relationships.

            While I agree that the local laws are a little sneaky here because it’s true, the speed changes ever so slightly on a ramp or under a bridge where they’ve placed a speed camera and it’s easy to get caught in that web. I do have emapthy with your argument about this point. I also though live in this city as a pedestrian and a biker and based on that, I am aware that there are some serious speeders in vehicles that put people’s life at risk every single day. The way they get around these speed cameras is they know where the speed cameras are so they “obey” the rules at these points then speed through roads where there are no cameras. I know this will be heatedly debated but I’m in favor of unmarked speed cameras around the area. That way people can’t beat the system by obeying the laws in front of the cameras and speed everywhere else. That defeats the purpose of the speed cameras. People will try to argue the privacy issue but when in public one can only maintain the reasonable expectation of privacy.

          • jcm

            I can’t speak for all of Europe, but I can tell you in Switzerland they do not need a clear view (or any view) of the driver’s face. And they set the threshold at 3km over the speed limit.

            I received a ticket for 120 CHF which had to be paid via an expensive wire transfer. And Hertz charged me a 40 CHF admin fee to rat me out. All told, it was about $200 for going 54mph in a 50mph zone. And the picture definitely did not include my face.

    • sv

      It worked on me. I’ve slowed down and am more attentive of the signs and the cars around me. Not that I was driving insanely fast before, but let’s just say I was in the $125 range. Slowing down a few miles an hour makes almost no difference in my travel time, what with traffic lights (and traffic) anyway.

      I can also tell immediately which drivers have gotten tickets. We’re the ones driving annoyingly at or near the speed limit when there’s almost no one around.

  • I think the best part of all of this is that the revenue will be used to hire 100 more officers. That gets huge props – and perhaps it will get us closer to more community based policing and more feet on the streets. Thank you, Gray, for making this call. At least I can like him for one thing.

  • kgw

    Just paid my $125 fine. It will make me slow down the next time I go in the 20th & K Street tunnel. I knew about all the other tunnels but forgot about this one! These fines have made me slow down, in general. I naturally have a heavy foot.

  • speedy

    The speed camera pictured, which is at the bottom of the Porter hill, is no longer there.

    • There were two speed cameras on the Southwest/Southeast freeway and now they are gone. I was told there were complaints about the cameras.

  • ah

    I wonder if it is coincidence that MPD techs were out adjusting the camera on Mass Ave. inbound near Wisconsin this morning. Perhaps they were setting the threshold lower?


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