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  • Petitioned District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles and Council

This petition was delivered to:

District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles and Council


    1. mark mueller
    2. Petition by

      mark mueller

      Washington, DC

DC COUNCIL IS ABOUT TO VOTE on MAYOR Gray's proposals for many more traffic cameras.  Will go before Councilmember Phil Mendelson's (D-At Large) Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.  

I have provided further clarity to my original posted reasoning for this being important below:

The high fees and camera placements are for generating money, not for making roads safer. I received four $125 tickets in the weeks following a new camera conveniently placed on the bottom of a hill on Porter Street, a large 4 lane road with a quiet, unpopulated, forested stretch and a speedlimit of 30 (I was going 41), where people easily drift through a short scenic escape from the city. I didn't know I was getting tickets due to the time it takes for delivery & I saw no flash in the daylight.  The city may target this area, like others, knowing the stretch is perfect for a speed higher than 30mph and is one of few roads available for daily commuters trying to weave their way in or out of the city. If this is really for awareness of speed and safety, a ticket of $40 will have the same effect as a ticket for $125.

Feb 25 - A critical supporter told me today, I should better explain my thinking since my original knee jerk posting of this petition.


I hope this offers better clarity:

I support smart use of speed cameras for safety and, to a degree, revenue. 

I can be convinced by authorities that this larger cost of fines is justifiable.

But, the city should convince us by providing reasonable research.

I understand they won’t have perfect all inclusive scientific data.

I understand they won’t have pure safety-related reasons & that revenue to a degree is necessary.

I understand we vote people in agreeing to give them the right to make decisions on our behalf.

But, I think this particular decision to significantly increase fines to a cost many good people consider cruel & unusual, deserves a reasonable explanation from the authorities with reasonable—not perfect—but reasonable data to back it up.  If the data is unreasonable, the fine should be put back to a reasonable cost that achieves reasonable objectives.


Some problematic answers:

The answer “If you don’t like the higher fine, don’t speed

Doesn’t provide any reasoning for increasing the fines

The answer “Raising the cost of fine gives people incentive to drive the speed limit

Doesn’t back up the claim with any “reasonable” data indicating $125 is the cost of achieving incentive—why not $1000 or $40?


The answer “Number of accidents at speed cameras decrease

Doesn’t address the choice made for this high cost of fine

Also should include data proving a drop & proving accidents don’t rise on alternative routes (I now take Tilden instead of Porter) and that accidents don’t increase from slowing down & speeding up.


The answer “The fines need to equal a neighboring state so people don’t speed in DC because our fines are lower

Doesn’t give “reasonable” data indicating the neighboring state’s choice is the cost of achieving incentive—why isn’t that other state charging $1000 or $40?  This is also arguable because our neighboring state does have camera fines at $40.  It also doesn’t give data showing people choose to speed if the cost drops.  Do people still speed if our tickets are $25 or $35 less?  Personally, I would find it really interesting to see methodology & data used to prove (# of purposeful speeders in DC) correlates to (difference in charge between DC & Maryland). 


It’s wrong that the burden is put on the citizens to prove fines are unreasonable.  It should be the burden (job) of the city to prove their action to raise fines is properly justified with data.  If it is not properly justified, they should put fines at $40 until reasonable data supports a specific rise.


As for other things related to my issue, such as questioning the placement of cameras, alleged 60-70% of each fine payment going to contracted camera companies, influence contractors have on setting fine amounts, camera settings & camera placement, how the money is spent, etc—this is all interesting but I don’t want them center to this petition.  This petition is to have fines lowered to $40 until data is provided supporting a specific increase.


Perhaps the cost of contracting this out & some minimal reasonable data supports the rise in fines to what they currently are.  If so, I could except it—but first I want reasonable information.


Please also realize New updates are posted from time to time in the "Petition Updates" tab.


Thank you,



Recent signatures


    1. Mayor Gray makes very small step toward level-headed fine amounts

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      Nov 2, 2012
      Mayor Gray Announce Changes Designed to Improve Safety, Fairness in Photo Enforcement
      Mayor Gray said. “Today I am announcing that, effective on Monday, there will be adjustments in the ATE program that we believe will improve fairness while continuing to ensure and improve public safety.”

      The changes to the program include decreasing fines on less-dangerous violations of speed laws and increasing fines on the most flagrant violators:

      • Violators caught speeding up to 10 miles per hour over the limit will be fined $50 instead of the current $75;
      • Violators caught speeding 11 to 15 miles per hour over the limit will now be fined $100 rather than the current $125; and
      • Violators caught speeding more than 25 miles per hour in excess of the limit will receive a higher fine of $300 instead of the current $250 fine.

      FYI--DC Council members are pushing for the $125 fine to be lowered to a $50. So, everyone should keep the pressure on!

    2. My Nemesis Speed Camera Is Now GONE

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      GREAT NEWS--My Nemesis Porter Street speed camera, which sparked my petition to lower cameras, is now GONE!
      Here is the linkWashington Post article anouncing its removal:


      The camera was located on westbound Porter Street NW near Beach Drive. Placed near the nadir of Rock Creek Valley, it was in prime position to catch drivers zooming down the hill from Mount Pleasant — but that’s not the half of it.

      Mount Pleasant Commissioner, Jack McKay, “It’s a four-lane divided roadway, limited access, no residences, no businesses, no crosswalks, no cross traffic, and it’s no wonder that drivers speed up at this point, not because they’re crazy speedsters but because the road is clearly built for higher speeds..a 2006 city speed study and generally accepted traffic engineering principles, McKay argued, the limit should be 35 or 40mph."

    3. DC Task Force To Study Lowering Traffic Camera Fines!

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      Finally, a step toward lowering the speed camera fines!! Thank you everyone for signing.

    4. Mayor just passed budget to greatly increase number of DC traffic cameras

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      I sent in the petition to the Mayor and Council members in time for their budget hearings to increase traffic cameras. I understand that they are still planning to increase the number. I was also told they were going to require fined drivers to pay a fee + their ticket fine, before they can protest the ticket in court. My new Commissioner duties and regular job have kept me from keeping up to date on specifics with what the Mayor's office passed. I sent him a letter today with a link to the petition.

      So, the price appears to be staying high, plus more expensive if they are truely requiring a fee before protesting the ticket. This seems to be getting more cruel and unusual. If someone can inform on specifics that the administration is moving for, I will post them here.

      Thank you,


    5. Reached 750 signatures
    6. MUST READ--Mayor Gray Envisions a D.C. Covered in Traffic Cameras

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      I must get petition sent soon before Council votes--please get people to sign so I get 1000!!!
      Mayor Vince Gray has proposed installing more traffic and speed cameras throughout the city as a means to raise some $30 million in 2013. AAA has come out against the traffic cameras, telling The Washington Times the city is "addicted to revenue" from the hefty tickets sent to speeding motorists. Various councilmembers have said that they're none-too-happy with all the complaints from their constituents over the cameras. A change being considered in the DMV's Fiscal Year 2012 performance plan would require those wishing to challenge tickets in court to pay the tickets, as well as an additional $60 adjudication and transcript fee, up front before going before a judge. Gray's proposals for more traffic cameras will go before Councilmember Phil Mendelson's (D-At Large) Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.

    7. Investigation Uncovers Irregularities in DC Speed Camera Contract

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      An article from 2008 showing how we came to the current contractor running the speed cameras. Does not state what % of each ticket fine goes to them.

    8. What's Driving The Backlash Against Traffic Cameras from NPR

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      This is one of the best articles I've read so far. Lots of level headed information and updates on what is happening in other cities. Please check it out.

    9. Maryland fines for comparison

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      People have been asking how Maryland fines compare. Here is from the MD website:

      Violators must pay $40 for the initial fine. Since the violations are treated as civil and not criminal violations, there are no license points assigned and vehicle insurance providers are not notified of the citation. No points are assessed for photo-enforced violations in Montgomery County.

      In- State $40
      Out of State $40

    10. MPD email to signers of this petition - asking for your input

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      Here is an email from MPD posted on Bloomingdale Listserve. Thank you Lisa Sutter & John Sallati. It offers some info. If you respond, please be to the point & respectful. I don't want to use emails to MPD to vent. Let's get /give clarity.

      From: Sutter, Lisa (MPD) <lisa.sutter @ dc.gov>
      Date: Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 8:10 AM
      Subject: Quick question

      To: ``john.salatti @ gmail.com`` <john.salatti @ gmail.com>

      Dear John,

      Over the past few days, NBC and Fox5 have been covering an effort by citizens to have folks sign a petition at change.org to lower fines for speed enforcement in the District. Our response is below. I was wondering if you would consider asking folks in your area to weigh in on this topic. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks!
      (email continues over next two posts below...)

    11. MPD Response-Bloomingdale Listserve - Thank you Lisa Sutter & John Sallati

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      (continued) In 2010, the fines for the most frequent traffic violations in the District were increased to align with the significantly higher fines in Maryland and Virginia. Before the increase, in DC, speeding 11-15 miles per hour (MPH) over the speed limit incurred a fine of $50. In Maryland the fine is $90, and at $126, Virginia`s fine was more than twice that of DC. At 20 MPD over the speed limit, Maryland`s fine increases to $160, and in Virginia, the speeder must appear in court. Some drivers seemed to treat the District`s lower fines as a pass to speed up once they reached District streets. Therefore the District raised its fine to deter illegal and dangerous driving.
      Although Maryland has lower fines for automated tickets, District fines for automated traffic enforcement violations remained the same as officer-issued fines. Since one of the primary objectives of an Automated Traffic Enforcement program is to serve as a force multiplier so that individuals (continue below)

    12. MPD Response-Bloomingdale Listserve - Thank you Lisa Sutter & John Sallati

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      (Continued from above post)--
      obey traffic laws even without an officer on the corner, it would not be logical to have lower fines for these tickets. As it is, drivers do not get points on their record for the Automated Traffic Enforcement tickets.
      In our densely populated city, there is a higher risk for collisions between vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists, and speeding increases the risk of serious injuries or fatalities in the event of a collision. An adult pedestrian hit by a car going 30 mph has an 80% chance of living. If the car is going 40 mph, there is an 80% chance that the pedestrian will be fatally injured. Traffic safety is more important now than ever with the population and development in the District rising, and more bicyclists on the road.
      The bottom line is that motorists who obey the posted speed limit do not have to worry about the fines for tickets.

      Lisa Sutter, Program Manager
      Metropolitan Police Department
      Homeland Security Bureau

    13. Lower camera fines? Sure, once we have more cameras

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      Washington Post Opinion--same writer and piece also posted on Greatergreaterwashington.org

    14. Reached 500 signatures
    15. Fox News Coverage from Monday, Feb 20th.

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you Matt Ackland! I like that they kept the article about the size of the fine. Vincent Grey doesn't seem to get it.

    16. NBC coverage from last night and today

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      The news is interested. One reporter & some people signing the petition informed me of interesting questions the city should answer to inform the public how the fine amounts are calculated and used.
      I will support the fine amount if it is logically justified, but so far it hasn't been.

    17. Good article understanding it's about fine amount & mentions this petition

      mark mueller
      Petition Organizer

      This petition is primarily about the amount of the fine, how it is calculated, and where the money goes (does it benefit the tax payers). Here is an interesting article, which also mentions this petition.
      NOTE: I am not against cameras. This is a petition to lower the fine amount--or else inform us why $125 is necessary in DC over $20 or $40, which should achieve the same objective. AND, explain how the money is divided up--who benefits from the cash? How much goes to better roads, to private companies, to installing new cameras, etc.

    18. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Ophelia McCardell BETHESDA, MD
      • about 1 year ago

      A $92 ticket for driving 11-15 over 25 mph is not reckless and the fine is exorbitant.

    • Fabiane Butler WASHINGTON, DC
      • over 1 year ago

      I am in triple jeopardy. Due to outrageous fees and fines, my car is gone, I cannot get a business license, My credit report is ruined and Bankruptcy wont even settle the score. This is LITERALLY highway robbery.

    • lang nguyen FALLS CHURCH, VA
      • over 1 year ago

      This is a revenue generating. A ripoff. And a tax on automobile drivers. Nothing more.

    • Robert Crowder ARNOLD, MD
      • almost 2 years ago

      I can't believe a camera has been installed on the South Dakota Ave. Approach to the US 50 Ramp. There is literally 1 block of city road before one reaches the on-ramp. This has obviously been placed for revenue purposes. To that end, it's a $100.00 fine. This is ludicrous.

    • Miguel Martinez FALLS CHURCH, VA
      • almost 2 years ago

      I Believe Is Way Unreasonable And Not Even Comparable To Neighboring States Which Rates Are From $25 To $40 Dlls On Any Camera Tickets. For An Under-Employed person like myself is almost impossible to pay not one but 2 tickets in a row. Unfortunately DC Streets have a lower 25MPH than VA Which is 35 MPH Default on most Avenues and 25 MPH on Residential streets. Weird That A High Traffic Major Rd (K St) in DC is still 25MPH. It took me by surprise to learn it as I dont drive there that often.


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