A reader who was caught by a speed detection camera wants to know if Maryland law requires that drivers must be notified where speed cameras are in use.

Speed cameras can be mounted beside a road or installed in a law enforcement vehicle. They are used to detect vehicles speeding, running red lights, driving through toll booths without paying or using a bus lane without authorization.

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State law does require notice to motorists that the cameras are in use, but it is general, not specific. If you were picturing roadside signs saying “Speed cameras next 3 miles,” that form of notice is not a requirement under the law.

A local government that seeks to install speed cameras must notify the public that it is planning to install the devices. The government must provide reasonable public notice of the speed camera plans, hold a public hearing and the governing body — council, commissioners or city council — must vote on whether to install the cameras.

The local government must notify the public of speed camera locations on the government’s website and in a newspaper of general circulation in the jurisdiction. If a local government wants to install speed cameras on state highways running through its jurisdiction, it must obtain approval from the State Highway Administration.

Speed camera notice requirements are stricter for cameras in school zones than for roads that do not pass schools.

A local government that wants to put speed cameras in school zones is legally required to post roadside signs showing the posted speed limit and advising motorists that speed cameras are in use in the zones.

School zones must be established by the authority that has jurisdiction over the road that runs by the school — whether state or local government — after the authority has adopted legislation to define a school zone. The zone must be marked by “school zone” signs.

Speed cameras have been bringing revenue rolling into the jurisdictions that use them. An NBC Washington news report five months ago found that the cameras had produced nearly $64 million for the jurisdictions that used them in the 2018 fiscal year. Montgomery County led with $15.9 million in revenue, followed by Baltimore City with $9.6 million, Prince George’s County with $6.8 million and Baltimore County with $5.6 million.

Some municipal governments in the Washington area have installed speed cameras. College Park, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Laurel are using them. Income for the towns in fiscal 2018 ranged from $2.7 million for College Park to $1.4 million for Laurel.

It is likely to be difficult for a motorist to challenge a speed camera ticket in court, since the cameras are set to photograph the license plate of the speeding vehicle. However, since the ticket is sent to the owner of the car, in one case an owner successfully avoided a fine and points on his record by proving that he was not driving when the camera photographed his car.

Donna Engle is a retired Westminster attorney. Her Legal Matters column, which provides legal information but not legal advice, appears on the second and fourth Sunday each month in Life & Times. Email her at denglelaw@gmail.com.

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