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Old 12-21-2015, 07:40 AM
Howard Hartman Howard Hartman is offline
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Default Most District Residents Couldn’t Afford To Pay $1,000 Speed Camera Tickets

AAA Mid-Atlantic News Release
December 21, 2015


Most District Residents Couldn’t Afford to Pay $1,000
Speed Camera Tickets Proposed by the Bowser Administration


Ticket Would Be The Most Expensive In USA, AAA Mid-Atlantic Survey Shows

    

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Monday, December 21, 2015) –– At  $1,000 a pop, that new speed camera ticket would be unaffordable to most District residents, including millennials, likely leaving them in dire financial straits, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s because the fine is almost double the average weekly take home pay of most city residents. Those fines would be a stretch for drivers from Virginia and Maryland, the “richest state in the United States,” ticketed in the District. Yet lead-footed drivers in the District could soon face the highest speeding ticket costs in the Washington metro area and the mid-Atlantic region, and the topmost in the nation,* a survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic shows. (The median bi-weekly paycheck in the city is $1,212, based on the city’s per capita money income of $45,290 annually, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The per capita annual household income is higher, at $65,830).
 
Nearly 41 million speeding citations are issued across the nation annually, yet the average cost of a speeding ticket in the United States is $150. In its Vision Zero Plan of Action, the Bowser Administration vastly overstates the amount of the fines on tickets issued to drivers in Maryland and Virginia for exceeding the posted speed limit by 26 miles per hour. The fine for drivers caught or captured going flagrante delicto at that speed in the city is $300. Once that hefty fine is raised to $1,000 in the nation’s capital, it goes twofold to $2,000, if motorists do not have the cash to pay it within 30 days, explains AAA Mid-Atlantic. In the wake of the blowback over the proposed $1,000 ticket, the Bowser Administration claims the city’s “fine regime is the weakest in the region.” 
 
However, a survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic proves the new proposed fine would far exceed the traffic fine scale for similar offenses in surrounding states. In fact, the current cost of an egregious speeding ticket in the District – $300 – is nearly 100 percent higher than the same traffic citation in Virginia, where it costs $151, plus court costs. In Maryland, it is a $160 fine if the speedster is pulled over by a police officer and only a $40 fine if the infraction is captured by a speed camera. “The overriding goal should be to price tickets so that they are sufficiently punitive, but not unaffordable,” cautioned The Los Angeles Times editorial board. The District should heed this. 
 
 “No one condones reckless driving or speeding. But with the astronomical hike in traffic fines, some motorists sense the District is using its familiar playbook, and it will arouse public suspicions about the merits of the District’s traffic enforcement efforts and its fine regime. Sadly, that is quickly becoming the perception,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “As the data show, the $40 speed camera tickets in work zones in Maryland, and in school zones in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have the same deterrent effect (an 85 percent reduction in speeding) as the city’s $300 photo tickets. Some are wondering if the proposed higher ticket fine regime is really more about revenue generation, than traffic safety.”
 
Some observers say the way Philadelphia rolled out its Vision Zero plan and the way the District is proposing the plan is like night and day. The Philadelphia City Council recently approved Vision Zero legislation that increased the city’s vehicle registration fee by five dollars to fund road improvements. The District’s Vision Zero plan, however, proposes to hike fines for 20 traffic infractions aimed at motorists only. In contrast, Philly’s Vision Zero plan, which AAA Mid-Atlantic supports, respects all highway users, seeks to change the dangerous behaviors of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike, and proposes fines that are proportionate to the offense. 
 
Most likely that super-high $1,000 speeding ticket will be issued by a speed camera, making it the costliest speed camera ticket in the nation and region. Of the 218,450 speeding tickets issued by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC) last year, just 0.2 percent were written by a police officer. Curiously, 70 to 80 percent of speed camera tickets in the District and in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are issued to motorists going a tad few miles over the limit. A third of all speed camera tickets in the jurisdictions are issued to motorists going 1 mph over the tolerance threshold. It’s 12 mph over the speed limit in Maryland and 11 mph over in the District. 
 
To get a $1,000 speeding ticket in Maryland, an unconscionably flagrant driver has to fly like a bat out of hell at 40 mph faster than the posted speed limit in a school zone, with timed flashing warning lights, and signs warning that the fines double in the hours that small children and vulnerable users are traveling to and from school. But to receive the state’s costliest citation for speeding, a police officer has to pull over that dangerously reckless driver. Not so in the District. That’s because the bulk of speeding tickets, and egregious speeding violations, are captured by the city’s arsenal of 97 speed cameras, instead of by police officers. The MPDC issued 3,162 tickets to motorists for egregious speeding violations on the city’s traffic arteries in the five-year period from 2010 to 2014.
 
Like the miller named Rumpelstiltskin of Brothers Grimm legend, who sought to spin straw into gold, some local governments, including the District, are relying on traffic tickets to generate additional local revenue under the patina of traffic safety, warned critics, including the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That’s the perception the District hopes to counter. It is hard to do while increasing speed camera tickets and hand-written speeding tickets to $1,000. To ascertain the average regional cost of speeding tickets for zipping 26 mph over the limit, AAA Mid-Atlantic surveyed traffic ticket costs in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 
 
Maryland. A motorist pulled over by the police and ticketed for going 20 to 29 miles per hour over the posted speed limit is slapped with a $160 fine, and two demerit points. Drivers exceeding the posted speed limit of 70 mph by 20 to 29 mph face a $290 speeding citation and five demerit points will also be assigned to their records. The fine for exceeding the posted speed limit in a school zone by 20 to 29 miles per hour is $270, plus two demerit points. A scofflaw zooming 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit in a school zone is hit with a $1,000 fine, plus five demerit points. If those infractions are captured by an automatic speed camera unit, the fine is $40.
 
Virginia. Speeding tickets in Virginia, which has no speed cameras, are calculated by an interesting but complicated formula. The pre-payable fine is determined “per mile-per hour in excess of posted speed limits” plus $61, explains the Alexandria General District Court. Generally, speeding tickets are six dollars per mile over the speed limit, plus $61, and seven dollars per mile in excess of the speed limit in school zones, plus $61. A motorist pulled over for going 26 miles per hour over the posted limit in Virginia faces a $151 speeding ticket plus a $61 add-on assessment. The offense is deemed reckless driving at the law enforcement officer’s discretion, which could entail much higher fines.
 
Delaware. Speeding tickets in Delaware, which also has no speed cameras, are based on how many miles over the speed limit the driver is charged with or convicted of driving. Any driver convicted of exceeding the maximum speed limit by more than 19 miles per hour pays a base fine of $20, plus an additional fine of $3 for each mile over the posted speed limit for the first offense. For a second offense, the motorist is fined the base fine, plus $4 for each mile over. 
 
Pennsylvania.  Drivers face a base fine of $35 for speeding in Pennsylvania, which also has no speed camera law on its books. If caught exceeding the speed limit by more than five miles per hour, drivers are fined $2 for each additional mile per hour over the speed limit, plus surcharges and court fees. Drivers violating a speed limit of 65 miles per hour are fined $45, plus $2 for every mile over the 65 mph speed limit sign.
 
New Jersey. Speeding ticket fines are $220 for drivers exceeding the speed limit by 25-29 mph. Tickets for going 15 to 29 mph over the posted speed limit constitute a 4-point offense in New Jersey, which has no speed camera law.  However, the speeding ticket fine is doubled in an area designated as a “Safe Corridor Area.”
 
*A few states have enhanced fines for speeding on their canon that range up to $1,000, but those heavy fines have an asterisk. Most automatically qualify as “reckless driving.” They are issued to scofflaws, such as repeat offenders driving with a willful or wanton disregard for safety in work zones. Brazen speeders clocked going “triple digits” or 100 mph or more by a police officer, or by a speed camera, in Oregon are fined $1,150, plus suspension.

Last edited by Howard Hartman; 12-21-2015 at 07:44 AM.
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