- House and Senate negotiators reach two-year budget deal
- Congress seeks ban on in-flight calls
- Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy site sold to owners of Townhall, HotAir: report
- GM’s Barra to be first woman to run top American carmaker
- China: Poisonous smog is a military asset, if you think about it
- Texas woman admits to sending ricin to Obama
- Ron Paul on son Rand: ‘I think he probably will’ run for president
- Cold War heats up again in the Arctic: Russian airfield reactivated after 20 years
- 6-year-old boy suspended for sexual harassment over kiss
- Voters deciding Mass. congressional contest
Business owner casts reasonable doubt on accuracy of speed cameras
PG business owner gets tickets tossed
Will Foreman has beaten the speed cameras.
Five times and counting before three different judges, the Prince George's County business owner has used a computer and a calculation to cast reasonable doubt on the reliability of the soulless traffic enforcers.
After a judge threw out two of his tickets Wednesday, Mr. Foreman said he is confident he has exposed systemic inaccuracies in the systems that generate millions of dollars a year for town, city and county governments.
He wasn't the only one to employ the defense Wednesday. Two other men were found not guilty of speeding offenses before a Hyattsville District judge during the same court session using the same technique.
"You've produced an elegant defense and I'm sufficiently doubtful," Judge Mark T. O'Brien said to William Adams, after hearing evidence that his Subaru was traveling below the 35-mph limit - and not 50 mph as the ticket indicated.
Mr. Foreman, the owner of Eastover Auto Supply in Oxon Hill, examined dozens of citation photos of his company's trucks that were issued along a camera-monitored stretch of Indian Head Highway his employees frequently travel.
The camera company, Optotraffic, uses a sensor that detects any vehicle exceeding the speed limit by 12 or more mph, then takes two photos of it for identification purposes. The photos are mailed to violators, along with a $40 ticket.
For each ticket, Mr. Foreman digitally superimposed the two photos - taken 0.363 seconds apart from a stationary point, according to an Optotraffic time stamp - creating a single photo with two images of the vehicle.
Using the vehicle's length as a frame of reference, Mr. Foreman then measured its distance traveled in the elapsed time, allowing him to calculate the vehicle's speed. In every case, he said, the vehicle was not traveling fast enough to get a ticket.
So far the judges have agreed.
"I've never seen this before," Judge O'Brien said, as he examined a superimposed photo presented by Mr. Adams, who also employed the technique. "How much time did you spend on this?"
Mr. Foreman said he is awaiting trial on about 40 more tickets, all of which he called "bogus."
Speed cameras "can be good, but not if they're abused," he said after the hearing.
The Maryland General Assembly approved speed cameras in 2009 for school and highway-work zones, two years after a pilot program in Montgomery County. Prince George's officials have long resisted speed cameras, but many municipalities began implementing them in fall 2009.
Supporters of the devices have argued they reduce speeding over time and increase safety, while many opponents call them a cash cow for local governments.
Mr. Foreman's tickets were all issued in Forest Heights, a town of about 2,600 where officials expected $2.9 million in ticket revenue this fiscal year, about half the town's $5.8 million budget.
In Prince George's County, cameras are operated entirely by municipalities, which can set them up within half-mile school zones. The devices are installed by vendors that typically receive about 40 percent of the payout on each ticket, with the rest going to local, county and state government.
Municipalities other than Forest Heights also use Optotraffic cameras. The Lanham-based vendor also serves New Carrollton, Mount Rainier and College Park as well as the city of Cambridge in Dorchester County, Md.
Optotraffic representatives said the photos are not intended to capture the actual act of speeding, and are taken nearly 50 feet down the road from sensors as a way to prove the vehicle was on the road.
"No one has come to us with a proven error," company spokesman Mickey Shepherd said Tuesday. "Their speed is not measured by the photos. The speed is measured before the photos are taken."
An Optotraffic technician was sworn in and offered the company's defense in the courtroom on Wednesday to no avail.
Mr. Foreman didn't buy it either. He said it was unlikely that his vehicles slowed significantly after passing the sensors, as photos typically show them with their brake lights off.
While Judge O'Brien let Mr. Foreman off the hook, he ruled against several other accused speeders who based their not-guilty pleas largely on gut feelings that the cameras were flawed, while reducing the fines for some who pleaded guilty.
A Forest Heights official declined to comment after court proceeding.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Harry Reid's visa pressure cooker
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Galaxy S4 owner claims Samsung tried to silence him after phone caught fire
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
The “Silver Tsunami” created by aging Baby Boomers is hitting America. Let’s explore how we adjust to it, enjoy it and defy negative expectations about age.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow