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D.C. Closer to More Speed Cameras, Lower Fines

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The D.C. Council today moved closer to a major change in speed camera fines. Upset drivers have complained that the high prices make it seem as though the city is just trying to raise money. Under the new bill, an average $125 fine would become $75. News4's Tom Sherwood has more.

    Good news and bad news for drivers in the District: The D.C. Council is moving closer to lowering those expensive speed camera fines but also planning on dozens more cameras.

    Thursday a Council committee approved legislation that would make most speed camera fines about $75 instead of $125. The city is acknowledging the high fines were used more to raise revenue than for public safety.

    The city says cameras, not high fines, slow drivers, hence the additional cameras. Mayor Vincent Gray has asked for 80 more.

    “We want cameras to be widespread, and whether a fine is $1,000 or $125 really is irrelevant in terms of the way people behave,” Council member Mary Cheh said. “What makes them behave is to know that they will be caught.”

    Council Chairman Phil Mendelson agreed, saying sporadic police enforcement is not enough.

    “One could speed on all the streets, all the time, and then get stopped once or twice, but now with photo enforcement, that motorist will get ticketed over and over again,” he said.

    Another part of the bill also is controversial. Council member Muriel Bowser opposes part of the legislation that encourages the mayor to review 25 mph speed limits and possibly raise them on some major streets. She said that would endanger citizens.

    “There are streets that go through neighborhoods, and if we have to slow people down, there's nothing wrong with that,” she said.

    She’s concerned that raising speed limits to 30 or 35 mph could raise the speed some people actually drive to 60 mph.

    “Even our major arterials go through neighborhoods,” she said.

    The full Council will take up the camera bill Tuesday.