7/10/2013Another Maryland Town To Refund Illegal Speed Camera Tickets
Speed camera operator Brekford to refund 664 illegal tickets issued in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Greenbelt, Maryland admitted Monday that 664 illegally issued speed camera tickets would be refunded because the for-profit vendor Brekford failed to meet the certification requirements set by state law.
"This email is to accompany our phone call earlier today informing you that two of the radar certifications for the speed cameras operating in the city of Greenbelt had calibrations spanning 13 months, not 12, and have been deemed not in compliance by the Washington County District Court," Brekford Program Manager Eric Weisz wrote in a May 23 email to the city.
The same calibration problem was revealed in the city of Hagerstown in May. Brekford imported its speed cameras from Sweden, where the radar manufacturer Sensys self-certified the equipment after it came off the assembly line. The court did not buy Brekford's argument that the "annual" calibration clock started when the cameras were installed, not from the original certification date.
"It was interpreted in Hagerstown's court that the unit was not in compliance of the law because there was a 13 month span from verification to expiration," Weisz explained.
Brekford and the cities that allow the company to operate their speed camera programs face additional legal jeopardy because the law specifies an independent calibration lab, not the camera manufacturer, must certify the devices.
"A speed monitoring system shall undergo an annual calibration check performed by an independent calibration laboratory," Maryland Code Section 21-809 states.
The one-month error will cost Brekford the full $26,560 in refunds, as the city refuses to pay for the speed camera operator's mistake. The city also insists on keeping the $15,936 it would have pocketed had the citations been valid.
"While all calibration issues have been resolved, the contract with Brekford clearly states it is the responsibility of the contractor to provide, maintain and support the equipment," Assistant City Manager David E. Moran explained in a memo to the city council. "It goes on to state the city is not responsible for equipment placed by Brekford."
Maryland's photo enforcement programs continue to be plagued with accuracy and calibration problems. 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).