5/16/2013Maryland: Another City Forced To Refund Illegal Photo Tickets
Hagerstown, Maryland forced to cancel and refund 808 illegal speed camera tickets. Laurel could be next.
Hagerstown, Maryland announced Wednesday that it would refund 808 illegally issued speed camera tickets. Brekford Corporation mailed the citations between the end of December and January using three automated ticketing machines that failed to meet the certification requirements of state law.
"A speed monitoring system shall undergo an annual calibration check performed by an independent calibration laboratory," Maryland Code Section 21-809 states. "The independent calibration laboratory shall issue a signed certificate of calibration after the annual calibration check that shall be kept on file; and shall be admitted as evidence in any court proceeding for a violation of this section."
A motorist who intended to fight a photo ticket requested the calibration certificate for use at trial in January, but the city responded with a March 5 letter denying the request, despite the law's requiring calibration documents be kept on file. The Maryland Drivers Alliance investigated the incident and forced the city to release an "in-house" calibration certificate from Sensys, the Swedish firm that manufactured the speed camera that Brekford operates on Hagerstown's behalf.
Another court challenge used the newly obtained documents and Washington County District Court Judge Mark D. Thomas agreed that the lack of independent certification rendered the citations void. All charges were dismissed. The finding raises the potential of similar refunds for citation recipients in the city of Laurel where six of Brekford's speed cameras operated under calibration certificates provided by the speed camera manufacturer Sensys, not an independent lab.
In December, Baltimore was forced to issue refunds for photo radar tickets after Xerox, the company that operates the cameras on the city's behalf, admitted that 5.2 percent of the tickets were issued based on bogus radar readings (view report).
The Maryland Drivers Alliance is encouraging ticket recipients in the state to file a public information act request for the calibration certificates before paying any fines. The group provides a sample request form on its website and offers to assist motorists in understanding the documents.