Speed camera fines changing in the District

The fines for speeding in the District are changing. Under criticism about the cameras and facing a Council bill to cut fines to $50, Mayor Vincent Gray announced Friday he’s cutting the cheapest speed camera fine from $125 to $100. There is no cut for the higher fines, but he now says he’ll use some of the millions of dollars the fines bring in to hire 100 new police officers.

“It’s an opportunity for us to move sooner than later to be able to bring about additional police officers,” says Gray.

Councilmember Tommy Wells says he likes the idea of hiring police with some of the money, but the fines are still too high.

“It doesn’t look like he went far enough. He’s certainly going in the right direction.”

By the end of last fiscal year, D.C. brought in $85 million from cameras. The CFO’s office projects $112 million for the current fiscal year 2013, 30 percent more. One of the mayor’s biggest critics, AAA, said there’s only one reason the mayor is doing anything.

“There’s a public backlash against speed cameras tickets in the District of Columbia,” says John Townsend, spokesman for AAA.

When asked what they think about the mayor’s news, some ticket payers at the DMV say the change doesn't make much of a difference.

As for the Council’s plan to cut all speed camera tickets to $50, police chief Cathy Lanier says, “I think a $50 fine is not a deterrent.”

The mayor’s budget writers complain the Council’s $50 plan would cost D.C. $35 million in revenue.