"The time stamp fulfills its purpose: to provide the time of the violation, and meets what is required by law," said spokeswoman Lora Rakowski.

While state law does not specify how specific a time stamp must be, it does require law enforcement officials in jurisdictions with speed cameras to verify tickets "based on inspection of recorded images." It also requires each automated camera ticket in Maryland to include a declaration stating "that recorded images are evidence of a violation."

The city and its speed camera vendor, Xerox State & Local Solutions, have maintained that their systemwide error rate is low, and pledged to get to the bottom of any problems with the city's system. Frank Murphy, the city's deputy transportation director for operations, said Xerox will begin performing what he called a "reasonableness test" of speed camera tickets, employing the same distance/time calculation performed by The Sun.

Critics of speed camera systems in Maryland questioned the validity of any system that doesn't make that simple math check possible.

"Tickets from cameras that do not go to the tenth of a second should be dismissed," said Steven A. Glazer, a federal administrative law judge who has written about Maryland's cameras. "The burden of proof is on the camera. If they don't provide the photo as evidence of speeding, they are not proving anything."

Since speed cameras were first authorized throughout Maryland in 2009, the systems in and around Baltimore have collected more than $70 million in fines from area motorists.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, who championed the speed camera legislation, declined to comment and referred questions to the State Highway Administration.

Baltimore County Del. James E. Malone Jr., a Democrat who chairs the Motor Vehicles & Transportation subcommittee of the House Environmental Matters Committee, said his panel will look at revamping the entire speed camera bill in Annapolis next year. He said several jurisdictions have misinterpreted the law on several issues.

"Some people may be doing things that do not comply with the bill's intent," he said.

State Del. Jon S. Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat, plans to hold a news conference Monday where he will discuss proposals for legislation to punish speed camera operators who issue erroneous tickets.

"Charging law-abiding citizens with a crime they did not commit, no matter how small the penalty, is a terrible breach of the public trust." Cardin said in a news release. "Administrative agencies must do a better job enforcing the law in a fair and equitable way without letting bureaucracy interfere with doing the right thing."

Cardin said in an interview he believes Baltimore County and other jurisdictions should provide the same level of specificity on their tickets that the city does.

"They should figure out a way to make that work and make people feel comfortable with the system," he said.





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