Drivers caught on camera racing up to 20 mph in excess of the speed limit, running red lights or failing to stop for pedestrians could see fines capped at $50 in the District under legislation proposed in the D.C. Council Tuesday.
Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) introduced legislation that seeks to overhaul the city’s automated enforcement program that has expanded to bring nearly $60 million in annual revenue into the city’s coffers.
Some council members have complained in recent years that the city was becoming too dependent on the speed camera revenue, frustrating drivers as cameras become more prevalent and fines increase. “Our budget was balanced on speed cameras,” Wells said in an interview. “That’s what this is really about, restoring public trust.”
The legislation would require the city to spend 50 percent of revenues from the camera enforcement into a fund dedicated to improving the city, traffic safety and road design.
Currently, driving up to 20 mph in excess of the speed limit is a $150 fine. A red light infraction is a $100 fine. Other violations to be capped at a $50 fine include passing a stop sign and failing to clear the intersection.
Under the legislation, violators would also get a 30-day warning period in which no fines could be assessed.
The legislation does not outline the potential origin of revenue lost by the reductions in fines. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) used the expansion of what his administration called “traffic calming initiatives” to generate more than $30 million in revenue to close a budget gap earlier this year.
“We’ve just started to review the bill, but at first glance, we have concerns that it doesn’t do enough to protect public safety,” said mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro.
Traffic fatalities in the District have dropped 56 percent, from 72 in 2001 to 32 in 2011, according to figures the administration released Tuesday.
Wells announced in July that he would revisit the concerns over traffic cameras, tapping a task force to help address the issue.
The group, made up of representatives from AARP, AAA (Mid-Atlantic) and advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians, met three times to help develop the legislation, Wells said.