Montgomery County police ignoring speed camera ruling

Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson,Montgomery County

A Montgomery County judge has thrown out a speeding ticket from a traffic camera in Bethesda because its placement was illegal, but county police disagree with the ruling and say they will continue to operate cameras on the road.

The police released a statement disagreeing with the ruling in the case of Robin Ficker, a Montgomery County lawyer and activist, who said he was erroneously given a $40 speeding ticket in September after a speed camera filmed him at the bottom of a hill on the 4300 block of Jones Bridge Road in Bethesda.

Since the ruling came out, the camera has been moved to a different part of the road. But police say they didn't move it because of the ruling. Instead, they say the camera is one of the county's mobile cameras that move periodically, and there will be no changes to camera operations as a result of the case.

"[Police] are free to place that camera along that corridor as long as they're in the guidelines that we outlined," said Officer Britta Thomas.

In a separate statement, the department said the decision did not establish a precedent and it will not modify any department policies.

Ficker argued the camera was too far away from residences, since Maryland law says cameras must be within 300 feet of housing.

The area is not a residential zone, he argued, as it was surrounded by Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Columbia Country Club, making the location of the camera unlawful.

The judge agreed. Ficker said many of his clients on unrelated cases have complained about the speed cameras on Jones Bridge Road, and he has been approached by others who have received what they believe to be unlawful tickets.

He is considering a class-action lawsuit against the police.

"It's a strange coincidence that it just happened to become a mobile moving camera two days after they were going to keep it there and there was nothing wrong with it," Ficker said. "It had been there for many months."

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