D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, responding to a torrent of criticism over costly speed camera fines in the District, is announcing major changes that will affect motorists in the city.
At a news conference, the mayor announced several administrative changes that don’t require council approval and will take effect Monday, Nov. 5:
- Fines for speeding 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit will be lowered to $50 from $75.
- Fines for speeding 11-25 MPH over a posted limit will be lowered to $100 from $125.
- Fines for speeding 25 MPH or more over the posted limit will be raised to $300 from $250. The mayor says he believes that this excessive speeding is particularly unsafe.
- The speed limit will be raised on some major roadways that have been repaved and improved – like places in cases where center aisles have been added to separate traffic. One such road is Bladensburg Road in NE. Other roadways will be announced based on Department of Transportation safety guidelines.
- And to counteract criticism that speed cameras are just there to raise money for the city government, the mayor says he will dedicate part of the speed camera revenues to hire an additional 100 police officers. That would raise the city’s total police force to 4,000 officers.
The mayor’s administrative action comes as some council members are moving ahead with legislation to force a reduction in the speed camera fines.
Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells, a major proponent of lower fines, said Gray may not have lowered fines enough with the new proposal.
Wells said it appears Gray is keeping fines still high “to balance the budget. There’s no correlation between the size of the fines and lower speeds,” Wells told News4. He said the danger of being caught is what keeps most motorists from speeding too much.
As for hiring police and raising speed limits on some roads, Wells welcome the changes. “That’s great, to reinvest in public safety. It does create a little more confidence” that the city isn’t simply gauging motorists for revenue.
The city raises tens of millions of dollars in speed camera fines each year.