Once it restarts its speed camera program, Baltimore City won't issue any automated speeding tickets on major school holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, transportation officials say.
The new holiday policy is a change from the city's practice since 2009 of issuing the $40 tickets year-round Monday through Friday, holidays included. Last Thanksgiving, for example, the city doled out 1,468 citations.
In addition to Christmas and Thanksgiving, no speed camera tickets will be issued on Jan. 1, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day or Election Day.
The city's entire speed and red light camera system has been shut down since mid-April, when it emerged that one speed camera was programmed with the wrong speed limit and citations were mailed out with an incorrect mailing address.
Transportation Director William Johnson said last week that the city won't bring its cameras back online until a test period shows the system is free of glitches. Problems plagued the previous speed camera system, as detailed by The Baltimore Sun. No restart date has been set, officials say.
Once automated enforcement resumes in the city, red light camera tickets will be issued seven days a week, 24 hours a day, as before. And speed cameras will continue to operate during summer vacation on the rationale that summer school and other student activities occur then.
But transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said in an email Tuesday that motorists won't be cited for going at least 12 mph over the limit on the nine major holidays. She did not explain the decision, which a department engineer mentioned last week to members of a task force named by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to study the camera program.
Unlike red light cameras, speed cameras are required by state law to be located within a half-mile of a school, except cameras in state highway work zones. And school-zone speed cameras can operate only on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.