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Committee approves radar camera bill

March 13, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Unsuspecting speeding drivers could get $100 tickets in the mail under legislation that passed a key hurdle Wednesday.

Over objections from conservative lawmakers, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 6-5 to approve the use of radar cameras in Maryland.

The bill must still pass the full Senate and House before April 7 in order to become law.

It was the second defeat this session for Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, who had fought to repeal a similar program to catch drivers who run red lights.

Washington County police agencies have not used red-light cameras and none have said whether they would use radar cameras.

Radar cameras would only be used in school zones or residential areas where the speed limit is 35 mph or less. Police said they would target drivers going at least 10 mph over the speed limit.

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Police would have to take two pictures of your car with the date and time stamped to prove your speed was clocked accurately.

Governments would be required to put a public notice in the newspaper revealing the locations of the cameras.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-Harford/Cecil, wanted to require police to put up signs cautioning drivers that the cameras are ahead.

"I want to warn everybody as much as possible. Big Brother's at work here," she said.

But the committee defeated her amendment.

Mooney offered an amendment, which was accepted, saying that people who decide to fight the tickets in court would not be required to reveal the name of the person driving their car at the time.

"As long as you're not involved you should be found not guilty. You shouldn't have to prove who's guilty," he said.

Mooney himself got two tickets from red-light cameras after someone stole his car and went on a month-long joy ride.

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