Judge Throws Out New Carrollton Scamera Tickets

March 24, 2009

A Prince George’s County District Court has thrown out several red light tickets issued under New Carrollton’s Red Light Camera Scam after deciding that the city did not have evidence that the accused drivers had run a red light. The drivers challenged the citations after seeing that they had received a ticket stating that they had “run a red light”, while showing that they in fact were not moving. The citations said nothing about “crossing a white line” or “entering a crosswalk”.

New Carrollton Mayor Pro-Tem James Wildoner defended the practice in an interview with Fox 5 News, and said anyone who got a ticket for crossing the white line should “just pay the ticket”. Wilborner pointed out that, under transportation article 21-202, drivers are supposed to stop before the white line. HOWEVER transportation article 21-202.1 is in fact the section of maryland transporation code which permits the use of red light cameras, and it includes the following
(5) “Traffic control signal monitoring system” means a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors working in conjunction with a traffic control signal to produce recorded images of motor vehicles entering an intersection against a red signal indication.
The transportation article also states that the court is considering evidence that a vehicle “passed through the intersection”. Article 21-202 also distinguishes between the intersection itself and the white line or the crosswalks. Courts accept red light camera tickets only because article 21-202.1 lowers the burden of proof on that specific offense and states that for that specific offense they are admissible without witnesses capable of exercising human judgment. Moreover neither Maryland Transportation Article 21-202 nor 21-202.1 specify any penalty entering a crosswalk of stopping past the white line.

Despite the fact that the court did not agree with his interpretation of the law, and despite the fact that they are forcing drivers to choose between getting into rear end collision or side impact collision if they want to avoid getting a ticket, the Mayor Pro-Tem Wildoner assures that the city’s practice will continue. This is no doubt in hopes that most drivers will not take the time to challenge them. AAA has stated that they plan to file an injunction to stop the the cameras, according to an interview with Fox DC.

These red light cameras were also vigorously defended by New Carrollton’s Police Chief David Rice, who is currently under investigation by state police and the FBI over unrelated charges.

New Carrollton first proposed installing red light cameras on these roadways in February of 2000, when one city council member was quoted by the Gazette as saying “I say we move forward and investigate it to the fullest. It’s a sure, good revenue source.”

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Maryland Red Light Cameras Caught Issuing Bogus Tickets

March 12, 2009

Fox 5 News has reported that red light cameras in New Carrolton, MD have been issuing large numbers of bogus tickets to cars which in fact stopped for the red light. The cameras were apparently issuing tickets to anyone who crossed the white line at the intersection, even if they came to a complete stop. A senior representative of AAA Mid Atlantic received one of the citations after he stopped at the intersection.

One driver interviewed by Fox news after being “flashed” while stopped at the intersection indicated “If I got it I wouldn’t fight it no. If the camera is set to do it that way I just have to pay the ticket.” In fact many drivers with less means than media clout than a senior representative of an organization like AAA might not make a challenge, given that Maryland law permits jurisdictions to threaten to raise the fine for citations from $75 to $100 and tack on court costs to anyone who takes their red light camera ticket to court.

The FAQ on the New Carrolton Police website makes it clear that automatically issuing tickets to large numbers of cars which in fact did stop for the light was deliberate:
“Q: I received a Red Light Camera ticket in the mail, but I am sure I stopped for the light. Why did I receive this?
A: In addition to vehicles which proceed through the intersection while the light is in the red phase, red light camera violations are also triggered by vehicles which pass the clearly marked “stop line” or enter the pedestrian crosswalk. “

Transportation Article 21-202.1, the section of the Maryland code which authorizes the use of red light cameras defines a “Traffic control signal monitoring system” as “a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors working in conjunction with a traffic control signal to produce recorded images of motor vehicles entering an intersection against a red signal indication.” and does not authorize their use against cars which stop before the intersection.

Forcing cars to stop too quickly might put drivers in the position of either being rear-ended or having to actually run the red light.

“Numerous” complaints have been received not just from New Carrolton but also Bladensburg and Riverdale, all in Prince George’s County, MD. Prince George’s County is currently requesting authorization from the Maryland legislature to permit the use of speed cameras, including one bill that would allow them on “primary highways”.

Remember that the choice to use photo enforcement to defraud passing motorists is a political decisions, made by elected officials in PG County and New Carrollton.  Please give them an earful.  Using cameras for this purpose is clearly neither fair nor is it in the interest of safety.

New Carrollton Mayor:
Andres Hanko 301-577-0256
ahanko@new-carrollton.md.us

New Carrollton City Councilmembers
Duane H. Rosenberg 301-441-3324
drosenberg@new-carrollton.md.us
James A. Wildoner 301-577-0992
jwildoner@new-carrollton.md.us
David L. Anderson 301-459-6100
danderson@new-carrollton.md.us
Katrina R. Dodro 301-513-9239
kdodro@new-carrollton.md.us
Liza Fenton 301-459-6100
lfenton@new-carrollton.md.us

Prince George’s County Executive: 301-952-4131
County Council:   301-952-3700
Council member emails: TEDernoga@co.pg.md.us, WACampos@co.pg.md.us,
EOlson@co.pg.md.us, IMTurner@co.pg.md.us,
councildistrict5@co.pg.md.us,  SHDean@co.pg.md.us, CAExum@co.pg.md.us,
TKnotts@co.pg.md.us, mmbland@co.pg.md.us