- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

The Metropolitan Police Department has asked the city's Bureau of Traffic Adjudication to dismiss tickets or reimburse drivers for more than 2,000 erroneous photo-radar citations amounting to at least $72,000 in fines.
D.C. police and Affiliated Computer Services Inc. the Dallas-based company contracted to run the speed cameras for the city issued 2,438 erroneous tickets to motorists in October, Chief Charles H. Ramsey said.
Three days of enforcement Oct. 15, 17 and 19 in the 2500 block of Porter Street NW and several weeks of enforcement in the 3300 block of East Capitol Street NE were based on inaccurate speed limits, he said.
"In order to rectify this situation and ensure that these motorists are treated fairly, I am requesting that the Bureau of Traffic Adjudication dismiss the aforementioned violations and facilitate the reimbursement of the tickets which have already been paid," Chief Ramsey said in a letter to Bureau of Traffic Adjudication Director Joanne Bailey.
He said the mistakes on Porter Street were the result of updated speed limits and the mistakes on East Capitol Street were the result of a processing problem.
The letter says the D.C. Department of Transportation changed the speed limit from 25 mph to 30 mph on Porter Street after the location was scouted for photo-radar cameras and before D.C. police began using the cameras to issue speeding tickets.
Chief Ramsey said officers discovered the error and "immediately" notified ACS "on or about" Oct. 19.
"Mr. Maurice Nelson of ACS assured them that the violations would not be sent out to the violators, but that was not the case," Chief Ramsey said.
Police officials said 438 faulty citations were a result of the error. Porter Street was added to the city's 74 camera-enforcement zones in October, according to the D.C. police Web site.
Transportation officials contacted by The Washington Times said the 25 mph limit was posted in error.
"There was a [speed-limit] change in that section of Porter Street. And we assume the 25 mph sign was erroneously posted by a contractor," said Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation.
Calls and e-mails to Mr. Nelson, program manager for state and local solutions, by The Times were not returned yesterday.
The camera enforcement on East Capitol Street, which began Oct. 15, yielded 2,000 bad tickets.
In a second letter to Miss Bailey regarding those violations, Chief Ramsey said D.C. police were notified by ACS on Wednesday that a group of violations had been processed in error.
"The error was a result of an ACS computer that was programmed to process violations at 35 mph when in reality the posted speed limit at the site was 40 mph," Chief Ramsey said.
The chief asked the bureau to dismiss the violations and facilitate the reimbursement of 38 motorists who had paid fines for tickets issued at the East Capitol Street location and roughly 35 at the Porter Street location.
Officials of the Department of Motor Vehicles the parent agency of traffic adjudication said the tickets will be dismissed as requested by Chief Ramsey and under the "guidelines" he specified.
"But to refund those who have paid, we will have to submit paperwork to the Office of the D.C. Treasurer to effect reimbursements," DMV spokeswoman Regina Williams said.
She said the D.C. Treasurer's process for reimbursements takes anywhere from six to eight weeks.
Chief Ramsey said ACS officials have promised to notify the violators of the error.
"It was a human error," D.C. police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile said yesterday. "An error was made, and we intend to have this corrected."
Chief Ramsey said it was important to point out that "all" of the motorists who received the erroneous citations were nonetheless exceeding the speed limit, though not by as many miles per hour as the tickets indicated.
The speed cameras, mounted on police cruisers, began operating in August 2001 in an effort to slow down motorists on city streets.


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