House majority leader Kumar Barve offered support for Cardin's idea to impose a financial penalty when a citation is found to be inaccurate.

"I think he's going in the right direction," Barve, a Montgomery County Democrat, said Monday. "Imposing a cost for errors is a good thing. Whether it should be $1,000 or $500 or $200, that's up for debate. The principle of having a penalty for bad behavior is actually pretty sound."

Cardin said he has not worked out details of his proposals, such as who would pay the $1,000 penalty. "I have a feeling the contracts are going to be set up by the jurisdictions in a way that makes sure the contractors are on the hook for having their tickets be legit," he said.

He also said he is still working on defining the circumstances under which a ticket would be deemed "bogus."

Not every ticket thrown out by a judge would qualify, he said, but some would: "If a judge throws it out based on the fact that they think it's one that was false, faulty in some way … somebody going 40 miles per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour zone, and a judge throws it out on those grounds, then yes."

To give motorists a way to fact-check their alleged speed, he thinks lawmakers should use Baltimore as a model. When the city issues a ticket, the two time-stamped photos are measured to a fraction of a second. The time between the two photos, plus a measurement of the distance a vehicle traveled, can be used to calculate the speed — which can then be compared to the alleged speed.

Tickets issued by surrounding counties and the state highway agency round off the time to the second, meaning both pictures often have the identical time, making such an analysis impossible. The jurisdictions all say they comply with the law, which does not specify how precise times must be.

The Sun used the time stamps to determine that five city cameras have issued erroneous citations. Two of the cameras, on West Cold Spring Lane near the Polytechnic Institute-Western High School campus, have not issued any citations since Nov. 29 as the city and Xerox work to identify the cause of faulty speed readings.

This month the city and Xerox ran 189 test runs past the Cold Spring Lane cameras, which have generated inaccurate tickets at least as far back as February. The tests did not identify a problem with the equipment, and Xerox has recommended "third-party validation testing."

The company recently completed an audit of its 75 fixed-pole cameras in Baltimore. Gilligan said the firm is analyzing it and preparing to give it to the city.

Cardin says he opposed the 2009 speed camera law and did not cast a vote. Despite his concerns, he has not advocated putting a halt to the speed camera programs.

"If we get to a point where people lose complete confidence in the system, yeah, we ought to stop, reevaluate and figure out a way to create confidence in the system," he said. "I'm not sure we're there yet."

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  • Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story. The Sun regrets the error.