After news reports and a recent audit that found that citations had been wrongly issued, Baltimore County Del. Jon Cardin is drafting legislation that would keep a closer eye on the state’s speed cameras.
Cardin (D-Dist. 11) of Owings Mills said he wants a review of all speed camera systems and contracts in the state, to be overseen by the General Assembly.
Each improper citation would result in a $1,000 fine for the jurisdiction or contractor responsible, Cardin said.
“Charging law-abiding citizens with crimes or administrative penalties for crimes or violations they haven’t done is a terrible breach of public trust,” Cardin said.
A legislative audit of the State Highway Administration, released in November, found that the contractor operating speed cameras in construction zones along state roads took many unreliable photographs from October 2009 through June 2010. During that time, only 44 percent of drivers photographed were actually sent citations; the other photos were unreliable or unreadable, according to the audit.
Cardin said that while cameras in Baltimore city offer drivers a pair of time-stamped photographs with each violation — intended to clearly show the movement of the vehicle — other jurisdictions don’t offer that level of detail. He believes they should.
“Judges are throwing out tickets, and people are rightfully upset,” said Cardin, who is exploring a run for attorney general in 2014.
Cardin said he expected his bill to have at least six or seven co-sponsors.
Recent reports in The (Baltimore) Sun have shown that speed cameras in Baltimore city — particularly one located on Cold Spring Road — had issued citations based on erroneous speed readings. In November, the city declined to renew its contract with Xerox, its speed-camera vendor, opting to work with the smaller Brekford Corp. of Hanover.
Brekford officials could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Prince George’s County’s speed-camera vendor, Optotraffic of Lanham, said it would be happy to answer any questions lawmakers might have about their system.
“There shouldn’t be any bad citations sent out,” said Tim Ayers, a company spokesman.
Fewer than one-half of 1 percent of citations from Optotraffic’s cameras are even challenged in court, Ayers said.
The company operates about 100 speed cameras throughout the state, he said.