Secondary Evidence for D.C. Speed Cameras

Road markings offer secondary evidence for speed camera infractions

D.C. police have speed cameras keeping an eye on drivers, but who's watching police when it comes to how they regulate the speed camera program?

Speed cameras, called across-the-road radar, cost drivers at least $125 per ticket. Because there are no officers to validate infractions, there are other measures to ensure accuracy, like white lines on the road that, in photos, show the vehicle’s progression, serving as secondary confirmation that the vehicle was speeding.

But when the speed camera program was introduced, the white lines weren’t there. Almost 100,000 tickets were issued without them – tickets that D.C. has not excused.

An internal Metropolitan Police Department email confirmed that after several new speed cameras started issuing tickets in October and November, police shut down those sites and decided to stripe those locations. According to another email, for several days in late November and early December, cameras were turned off at six locations.

It’s not clear why D.C. added the stripes, but Montgomery County police said they don’t operate the cameras without the stripes because it’s the law in Maryland and adds credibility to the program.

“We’re to make sure the citizens that get the citations understand the reasoning why we feel that the case is compelling that they’ve done that speed,” Montgomery County police Lt. Robert McCullagh said. “It shows clearly in the photographic evidence coupled with electronic evidence of the speed measuring device.”

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report recommending how to properly operate unmanned speed cameras stated there needs to be a delayed image showing the vehicle crossing a specified reference line. That goes to the concern of fairness and accuracy, NHTSA told News4 in a statement.

“District regulations do not require roadway striping for speed enforcement,” read an MPD statement. “Tickets issued by the portable speed enforcement units prior to, during and after the striping effort are all valid tickets and should be treated as such by the recipients.”

The fact that D.C. has not adopted the manufacturer's regulations for things like white stripes into law gives the District a lot of flexibility when it comes to enforcement.

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