Opinion, Police/Fire, Politics, Traffic

Unpaid speed camera tickets block over 41,000 vehicle registrations, license renewals for drivers in Baltimore County

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ANNAPOLIS, MD—Data from the Motor Vehicle Administration shows that 41,205 individuals have flags against their registration due to speed camera violations in Baltimore County, according to Delegates Ryan Nawrocki and Kathy Szeliga. The delegates say this number confirms that the speed camera program is simply trying to criminalize poverty for many who can’t afford this tax on the poor. The Delegates are currently fighting against Baltimore County’s proposed expansion of the speed camera program.

HB58, Baltimore County – Speed Monitoring Systems – Residential Districts, is scheduled to be voted upon during a Baltimore County delegation meeting on Friday, February 2nd. The bill has sparked much debate in the delegation and resulted in multiple amendments. The Delegates are concerned that speed cameras could replace much-needed community policing. Also, a speeder doesn’t receive the $40 fine until weeks after the violation, when the tickets appear in their mailbox. Other speed-deterring mechanisms, such as speed humps and police officers working traffic, instantly stop the speeder at that moment.

They say the public needs to be informed that the bill has been amended, at the request of Baltimore County government officials, to remove the Baltimore County Council’s power to vote upon the specific locations of speed cameras that would be expanded outside of school zones. The Baltimore County Police Department will have near unilateral authority if HB58 is passed.

Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough wrote a letter of support for the bill, which included two potential locations that he indicated would be the top priority if HB58 is passed. One location, at the corner of Silver Spring Road and Sherington Road in Nottingham, is only 0.3 miles away from Perry Hall High School property. According to current law, a speed camera can already be placed at this intersection. Another proposed location, at the corner of Franklin Square Drive and King Avenue in Rosedale, is only 0.2 miles away from the location of the new Nottingham Middle School to be opened in the Fall of 2024. This location can have a speed camera if the department feels it’s necessary under current law.

“It’s unconscionable how many hard-working families are affected by the speed camera tax,” said Delegate Nawrocki. “As the Fines & Fees Justice Center has demonstrated around the country, predominantly low-income and minority neighborhoods often bear the brunt of speed camera enforcement. The cameras are often placed in neighborhoods that can least afford this tax, which is just wrong.”

Delegate Szeliga responded to the MVA report: “Stating that a $40 fine is meaningless does not consider that these fines are another tax on the poor. With 41,205 current outstanding violations in Baltimore County, citizens are not finding it simple just to pay these fines and move on with their lives.”

The delegates say they are concerned about expanding speed cameras’ impact on the working class, as evidenced in cities like Chicago. They have both proposed amendments to HB58 to curb this potential legislation’s negative impact.

Photo via Pixabay

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