Maryland’s full Senate may soon vote on a bill that seeks to allow contractors, rather than police officers, to validate the photos taken by speed monitoring cameras that are used as evidence for speeding tickets.
Democratic Sens. Jamie Raskin, Jennie Forehand and James Rosapepe introduced the “Vehicle Laws—Speed Monitoring Systems—Enforcement” bill (S.B. 486), which the Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing on Feb. 21, 2012. The Committee has since sent the bill to the full Senate for a vote.
The bill seeks to authorize “specified persons to sign a statement that alleges, based on inspection of recorded images from a speed monitoring system, that a motor vehicle was being operated in violation of highway speed laws; and authorizing specified persons to swear to and affirm for evidentiary purposes, based on inspection of recorded images from a speed monitoring system, that a motor vehicle was being operated in violation of highway speed laws.”
If approved and signed into law, the provisions of the bill would apply to all speed cameras, including those operated by Maryland’s State Highway Administration.
Maryland law currently requires that a trained law enforcement officer review and validate any photographic evidence of a speed camera violation before a driver can be ticketed. The bill would change that and allow contractors—presumably the firms that install speed cameras—to validate the photographic evidence.
A critic of the bill says police review of photographic evidence was a major assurance Maryland officials gave to gain support for the use of speed monitoring cameras. StopBigBrotherMD.org, a critic of speed cameras in general, says police review of photographic evidence before a ticket is issued, “is one of the key assurances the public was given that the system was fair and that the contractors who substantially control the cameras would not have the final say in who gets a ticket.”
However, supporters of the bill say it will save local jurisdictions time and money while freeing up local police.