The Montgomery County Police Department has no plans to remove a speed camera in the 4300 block of Jones Bridge Road that a district court judge ruled was improperly placed.
Officer Rebecca Innocenti told Patch that "there will be no specific changes made to the [speed camera] program" and there are "no plans to remove that camera in the area of Jones Bridge [Road]"—between Wisconsin and Connecticut avenues.
The ruling resulted from a court session in which a $40 speeding fine—issued on Sept. 5, 2012, with the help of photos from the camera—was invalidated by District Court Judge John Moffett, according to a police department statement disputing the ruling.
The fine was issued to attorney Robin Ficker—who has a law office in Bethesda—and who represented himself during Monday's court session. Ficker measured the distance between the camera and the nearest residence, and found that the distance was greater than it should be, he said, for the camera to be properly placed.
According to the Maryland Code, a speed-monitoring system may be placed on a highway in a residential district with a maximum posted speed limit of 35 mph (the speed limit must have been established using "generally accepted traffic-engineering practices"), or in an established school zone, police said in a statement, Patch reported.
"The law ... states that [a] speed camera [being placed in a residential district] must be placed on a roadway that contains at least 300 feet of residences, not that the speed camera must be placed within 300 feet of a residence," according to the police statement.
But Ficker said that the placement of the speed camera in the 4300 block of Jones Bridge Road doesn't follow the spirit of the law.
The nearest residence to the camera, he said, was 900 feet, while the law, as he interpreted it, "says that cameras can be put on highways where for 300 feet you have mostly residences. ... Not only are there not mostly residences within 300 feet [in the area of Jones Bridge Road where the speed camera was located], there are no residences at all within 300 feet. There are no residences at all within 600 or 900 feet," Ficker told Patch.
"I won my case with that argument. The judge looked at the statue and saw that there are supposed to be residences within 300 feet," Ficker said.
Ficker added that he thought the police and county were "overreaching" in their definition of what a residential district is for the purposes of installing a speed camera in a residential district. "They’re trying to stretch the definition of residential district to mean that you can put speed cameras anywhere along a 10-mile road as long as there is a 300-foot section somewhere along the road where there are residences," he said.
"I read ... [that when the] speed camera law was enacted ... the Legislature was trying to protect people going in and out of residences and in and out of schools, which seemed reasonable," Ficker said.
"I think that the county needs to realize what the intent of the Legislature was: to protect people going in and out of residences and going in and out of schools. … Not to put a camera in every place where the police think people are speeding up because they’re going down a hill or there are open areas," he said.
Ficker added, "I’m glad I won, and I hope that they take down those improper cameras, and I think that [the police] should put a sign up there saying, 'We’re sorry, we made a little boo-boo and we’re going to refund the money.' "
Innocenti said that while there are no plans to remove the speed camera that singled out Ficker's car, "there's constantly a reevaluation of the whole [speed camera] program" in Montgomery County.
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