The June 17 Metro article on Maryland and Virginia testing a radar camera to ticket speeders on the Beltway brings to mind two questions.
First, how are the police going to issue tickets to our friends from West Virginia, Florida and other states that issue only one license plate? A photo is taken of the front of an oncoming car from these states is useless because there is no front tag. If a photo is taken of the back tag of a departing car, that can also be defeated. Placing a lightly smoked plastic cover (which is illegal in Maryland but seems to be a popular, stylish touch among some drivers) over the tag will make it too dark to see. Using the popular (also illegal, but unenforced) large chain license frame around the tag will not only cover the state name at the top, but also the validation (month and year) stickers at the bottom.
The second, more important question is who will testify for the state at the trial? Most traffic violations in Maryland are criminal offenses. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged in the traffic citation was the person driving the car. The state, not the driver, must prove who was driving. Who will testify to the chain of custody for the film used? Who will testify to the periodic testing of the radar gun used?
When a trooper stops you for speeding after using a radar gun, he must in court testify that: He was properly trained. The radar gun used was properly certified and tested. Your car was the car timed through the radar beam and you were the driver of that car.
Under the system described in the article, all of the above could be done except for the identification of the driver. That would leave the owner of the car responsible, just as the owner is now responsible for parking tickets. However, points and parking ticket violations don't go on your driving record.
If the state wants to stop speeding, it would be much cheaper and more effective to slow down all the speeding police cars and have them drive four abreast at 55 mph on the Beltway. Just one circuit of the Beltway at 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. should be enough to slow traffic for hours. GERALD F. HOWARD Camp Springs