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Maryland Police Refuse To Pay Speed Camera Tickets

Posted on March 10th, 2008 in , | 91 Comments

Maryland Police Refuse To Pay Speed Camera Tickets
Speed cameras in Montgomery County, Maryland have been ticketing motorists for quite some time now. Under their program, the tickets go to the owner of the vehicle instead of the driver. This is a common flaw in ticket camera systems across the country.

Local authorities have decided that it’s acceptable to do this to avoid the hassle of tracking down the actual violators.

The average motorist who receives a speed camera ticket can either fight it in court or send in a check. However, the amount of effort and time necessary to get a speed camera ticket dismissed is substantial. As a result, most drivers — even innocent ones — choose to just pay the ticket in order to avoid taking time off work to go to court.

Limited court costs are a key reason why ticket camera programs are so profitable for local governments.

According to the Washington Post, police in Montgomery County are bucking the trend and have decided to use their union resources to avoid paying camera tickets:

Among the thousands of drivers who have been issued $40 fines after being nabbed by Montgomery County‘s new speed cameras are scores of county police officers. The difference is, many of the officers are refusing to pay.

The officers are following the advice of their union, which says the citations are issued not to the driver but to the vehicle’s owner — in this case, the county.

So basically, they’ve decided to exploit the flaw in the system that they helped create. The article continues:

That view has rankled Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and County Council Member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), who chairs the Public Safety Committee.

“You can’t have one set of laws for police officers and another one for the rest of the world,” Andrews said.

Unfortunately, too often this appears to be the case, creating unnecessary tension between police officers and motorists:

In recent weeks, officers have twice been photographed speeding past a camera and extending a middle finger, an act that police supervisors interpreted as a gesture of defiance. “There is no excuse for that kind of behavior,” said Andrews, who was briefed on the incidents.

During the last eight months of 2007, the department’s cameras recorded 224 instances in which county police vehicles were nabbed traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit, the department disclosed this week in response to an inquiry from The Washington Post.

Of those citations, 76 were dismissed after supervisors determined that officers were responding to calls or had other valid reasons to exceed the speed limit. Nearly two-thirds of the remaining 148 fines have not been paid, including an unspecified number that remain under investigation, said Lt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman. He said the number of citations issued to police employees this year is not yet available.

It will be interesting to see whether the officers will be held to same standard as normal citizens, who would most certainly face consequences if they refused to pay their tickets.

Image Credit: MikeSchinkel


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91 Responses to “Maryland Police Refuse To Pay Speed Camera Tickets”

  1. […] automated machines of dubious constitutional legality. Fortunately, the tide is turning there with Maryland police officers refusing to pay their own fines, and the City of Houston offering a referendum to voters this fall. No photo enforcement program […]

  2. walkerny says:

    Brian, we do not wake up wanting to “bash police”. Speeding tickets are up 30% this year in New York. Did New Yorkers speed 30% more or are they trying to fund the budget holes?

    And again, not one policeman is willing to take up the issue about how they routinely give other policemen and family immunity to these same laws.

    Did you sign on the force so you could be a glorified “moving meter maid”?

    Did you become a policeman to hide at bottoms of hills, behind nooks and crannies, to pounce on someone doping 10 over and cost them several hundreds of dollars?

    Did you become a policeman to be an arm of the politician and tax man, a strong armed thug to shake down the citizens?

    Is it all about your pay & retirement, show up, run your speed traps, go home?

    Don’t be surprised then when you wake up in a profession soon to be hated and disposed for what it is becoming, another tax collector.

  3. JURY TRIAL AUGUST 2009: Deputy sheriffs shoot Redflex redlight scameras in Knoxville TN, prosecutors destroy all ballistics evidence and maintence records, Redflex fired for fraud and bribery:
    http://piratenews.org/kill-robocops.html

    “It is extremely easy to beat this type of ticket in court. Your easiest defense is to simply throw the ticket away. If it does not come with a return receipt that requires a signature, there is no proof that you actually got the ticket and they cannot prosecute you on that. What the legal system wants you to do is just send in the fine and not ask any questions. This can be a big money maker for some communities. One other form of defense to utilize on your behalf is the fact that when you are accused in court you must be faced by your accuser. Obviously the computer cannot appear in court as a defense method for the prosecution. Also, you do not have to identify yourself as the driver of the vehicle because it would violate your sixth amendment rights against self incrimination.”
    -Norman G. Fernandez, attorney at law, and Jes Beard, attorney at law in Chattanooga, Tennessee, JesBeard.com, “How to Beat a Speeding Ticket – Photo RADAR”
    http://jesbeard.com/s11.htm

    How to Beat a Speeding Ticket – Free Ebook download by attorney Norman G. Fernandez at BikerLawyer.net
    http://www.bikerlawyer.net/how-to-beat-a-speeding-ticket.pdf

    “Redflex Group is based in South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Redflex Holdings Limited was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in January 1997. Redflex Traffic Systems Inc has contracts with more then 130 USA cities, and is the largest provider of digital red light and speed enforcement services in North America.”
    http://Redflex.com

  4. Brian says:

    All that this site serves to do is to bash police. This article claims that police “exploit the flaw in the system that they helped create”. Since when do police create laws? I thought they ENFORCE laws, not make them. Shouldn’t you place the blame where it belongs — on the politicians who actually MAKE the laws? This story is about police defiance of a county law, enacted by county officials, which most police oppose. The majority of police that I know oppose speed cameras, as they punish the owners and are unreliable at best. If you can’t identify the operator, you should not issue a ticket, just like in the “real world”.

    Speeding violations are, no doubt, a revenue vehicle for local and state governments. However, comments made about “unfair” tickets seem unjustified most times. I agree that a ticket for a couple of miles over the speed limit is unfair (some cars speedometers are several miles off anyway), but 10 or more over signals to me that you knew you were speeding. If you know you are speeding (or should reasonably know) and the limit is posted, then you run the risk of a ticket. You can’t complain about being punished for violating a law that is well known, posted, with easy compliance. Many people hate and oppose seat belt laws too (despite evidence that they save lives), but they run the same risk of tickets if they don’t buckle up. Just because you don’t like or support a law does not mean that you should break it.

    • Dan says:

      Brian, police do make laws through selective enforcement. That’s the whole point of making an issue of police not paying speeding tickets. When a cop pulls me over for speeding and I am forced to pay a fine that reenforces that it is illegal for me to speed. When a cop or member of their family regularly gets away with speeding that in effect makes it legal for them to speed, even though the legislature has said otherwise. Victims of selective enforcement are not “bashing” police they are rightly angry over an injustice.

  5. Sicu Jacob says:

    This Is Ridicules, Police Officers Getting Speeding Tickets . I Believe Police Officers Should Follow The Rules . But Lets Not Get Stupid . I Pay Taxes – $5000.00 A Year Just For My Home 8009 Exodus Drive Gaithersburg MD . The Last Thing I Wanna See Is Montgomery County Cops Who I Personally Have The Most Respect For Out Of Any
    Other police Agency In America . Worrying About Camera Tickets – Then Doing There Jobs ( Looking For Reckless Drivers , DRUNKS , DRUGED UP CRUNKED UP IDIOTS ! Endangering Our Lives )

    The Question To Be Asked Is This – How Can They Move Freely / Catch Up To Suspected Criminals If They Have To Obey Speeding Laws . It Is The Stupidest !
    Thing I Have Ever Heard Of .

    The Problem Is It Interferes With There Ability To Move Freely .

    Police Stealth Should Not Be Under Minded By A Bunch Of Pencil Pushing Desk Jobs .

    Whats Next ?

    Stupidity And Ignorance Is Always On The Rise .

    This Issue Needs To Put In Perspective Correctly Along With A Few Others .

    Theres In No Way In Hell ! Police Can Continue To Do There Jobs Correctly
    If This Insane Idiotic Proposal In Implemented .

    I Will Personally Stand Up In Any Court Room In This County To Battle This Idiotic
    Nonsense .

    Here Are A Few Things To Ponder . What Are The Biggest Complaints Against
    Police . THEY NEVER GET THERE ON TIME ! Hello

    Im A 40 Year Old Outlaw , I Have Been Street Racing For 25 Of Those Years .
    I Have Been In Numerous Police Chases . I Know First Hand How To Get Away
    From Police . Do What They Won’t Do ! It Works . Police officer Throws His Lights
    100 Yards Away For Me , Im Gone . Theres No Way There Cruisers Can Out Run Me From The Start Never Mind From A 100 Yard Lead .

    Tieing There Hands Will Only Lead To Needless Suffering For Those That Speed
    Is The Only Thing That Will Save There Lives .

    I Don’t Run From Montgomery County They Catch You !

    I have Had My Share Of Run In s With The Fuzz . But Because I Was Respectful
    And They Respected Me It Has Always Ended Up Nice .

    I Am An Out Law But Im Not A Criminal .

    This Is Just a Ploy To Collect 1 – 2 A Meaning Less Attack On Our Great Police Force .

    Out Law = Some Who Disagrees With Idiot Laws :)

    If I Can Help Call Me 240-654-2094

    I Didn’t Move Back Here ( My Home ) To See It Go To Shit .

    to Whom It May Concern , Because It Does Concern Me .

    Thank For You Time .

  6. Frederick Harrison says:

    Quote: “Perhaps the ultimate solution to professional courtesy is to trim back the laws to those the cops will enforce against other cops and see how that works out.” End quote.

    True Story follows:
    There was a time when a County Police Officer ticketed a City Police Officer’s spouse, even though their vehicle clearly displayed the Police Department Shield in the rear window or on the rear bumper. The City Police Officer of the ticketed spouse contacted the County Officer responsible, and requested “Professional Courtesy” for his wife. The County Officer refused.

    What happened next? Well it started a “war” (for lack of a better word) between the City and County Officers, which lead to the ticketing of all Police Officer’s from different jurisdictions, and progressed to Family members on both sides.

    It is an unwritten and unacknowledged (outside of law enforcement) “Professional Courtesy” that Law Enforcement is expected to extend to one another, and indicates the level of respect between jurisdictions. A sort of truce was reached when the Top Brass from the affected jurisdictions became involved. This truce has continued for thirty some years. It should be noted that the “Professional Courtesy” extends to all Judges, court employee’s, and some elected officials.

    • walkerny says:

      How About professional Courtesy for the REST of us? The ones that pay very heavy tax burden to fund multiple layers of police forces, each pledging to PROTECT and SERVE us, yet many members of which do nothing but spend all day in speed traps trying to get MORE money out of us?

      I say again to law enforcement agencies, when you allow yourself to become the tax collecting tool of the politicians, you start an erosion of respect that you may wake up one day and be in a profession more hated then that of lawyer.

      In NY State, they are there.

    • Frederick Harrison says:

      Walkerny:

      You have no argument with me. I too would like “Professional Courtesy”, but we all know that will never happen.

  7. William W. Rogers, SR says:

    The officers are correct. The owner of the vehicle, Montgomery County, should pay or absorb the fines. The real cost to the County is the bounty paid to the camera company, not the total fine, since it is fee in vs fee paid.
    Further, Montgomery County might otherwise discipline the officers who are “fingering” the cameras for conduct unbecoming an officer of the law, but not for mild speeding on duty. Traffic flow demands that all cars in the capital area drive a margin over the limit. More seriously, what happens on the red light camera sightings? Does the County assess the officers for those? Is there a penalty to the officers for turning on emergency lights when not needed?

  8. Bruce says:

    I’ve read alot of thoughts (tho certainly not all) on this blog. Opinions have been many and diverse. On the issue of police being photoed, I myself still haven’t formed an ironclad opinion about whether officers themselves should pay the tickets or not. I will say, if they opt to pass the cost on to the police department they may as well just dismiss the infraction entirely because the cost eventually will be borne by the taxpayers (since, at that point it will come out of the dept. budget…which is tax money!). If the dept. chose to make the officers pay, it should be easy to determine who was driving since records should indicate who a given police vehicle was issued to or signed out for that given day (as the car would have numbers on it indicating it’s identity)! Also, if it was found that they were infact responding “no lights” to an actual incident, charges could be dismissed at that time! Just another opinion to ponder.




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