Thursday, April 14, 2005

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) says it will not void speeding tickets that were issued in areas where warnings were supposed to be dispensed, but will let its traffic adjudicators decide the tickets’ merits on a case-by-case basis.

“The decision is up to the hearing examiner,” DMV spokeswoman Janis Hazel said.

The Washington Times reported Monday that motorists have been receiving tickets for speeding in the 100 block of Michigan Avenue NE between Feb. 18 and March 20, when a new stationary photo-radar camera was supposed to issue only warnings.

But the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) also placed a vehicle-based speed camera in the area, and it issued tickets. In its press releases announcing the fixed camera, the police department noted the warning period but did not mention the mobile camera.

Some drivers feel they were misled.

“I’m not opposed to traffic-calming measures, but I think when you omit information as they did in this case, it is kind of misleading to the public,” said Regina Page, who received a $50 speeding ticket in the area Feb. 16, two days before police began issuing warnings from the stationary camera.

A police spokesman said the department never gave any indication that it would stop enforcement with mobile cameras in the area — one of 65 enforcement zones throughout the city in which police can place mobile speed cameras.

“If a person feels that their ticket was misleading, that person should bring in the press clippings and the MPD release and the hearing examiner will make a decision,” Miss Hazel said.

Police were unable to provide statistics on how many motorists were ticketed in the enforcement zone between the 100 and 500 blocks of Michigan Avenue NE during the grace period.

According to the department’s Web site (, more than 52,000 violations were recorded at four locations where new stationary speed cameras were deployed, including the 100 block of Michigan Avenue NE.

The three other stationary speed cameras that were activated on March 21 are in the 4700 block of MacArthur Boulevard NW, the 5400 block of 16th Street NW and the 2800 block of Benning Road NE.

None of those locations overlaps an existing photo-radar enforcement zone.

Police have operated a fleet of vehicle-based mobile photo-radar cameras since the summer of 2001.

The first stationary photo-radar unit was added in February 2004 in the 600 block of Florida Avenue NE, a 25-mph zone next to Gallaudet University.

City officials have said safety — not revenue — has driven the use and expansion of the automated traffic-enforcement program.

Critics have said the program aims to make money for the city and violates drivers’ privacy.

Since August 2001, the city’s speed cameras have issued more than 1.25 million citations, about 928,000 of which have been paid. The District has collected more than $70 million in fines.

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