Motorist pushes city to refund erroneous speed camera ticket

The Baltimore Sun

For Joe Stumpf, it appears persistence has paid off: The city has promised to refund him the $40 fine he paid after receiving an erroneous speed camera ticket.

It took the city Department of Transportation 10 weeks — during which time Stumpf fired off several emails — but the agency told him Wednesday he could expect a check in the next couple of weeks.

“I tell you, it’s been frustrating,” said Stumpf, who lives in Anne Arundel County and works as a machinist near M&T Bank Stadium. “My blood pressure.”

Stumpf first contacted The Sun in December. He had no doubt that a citation he got in the mail wrongly claimed he’d been speeding on Patapsco Avenue in Brooklyn.

He was right. The two time-stamped photos given as evidence of his speeding showed his Chevy Blazer moved barely eight feet between the photos, taken 0.313 seconds apart. That worked out to a speed of about 18 mph. The ticket alleged he was going 46 mph. That camera was one of seven in the city that The Baltimore Sun found had issued tickets with inaccurate speed readings.

On Dec. 11 The Sun provided the Department of Transportation with Stumpf’s citation number and a summary of the findings related to the ticket. The next day’s news story described how he’d paid the $40 fine because he couldn’t afford to take time off from work to challenge the ticket in court.

On Jan. 27, Stumpf emailed The Sun saying he had read that the city was issuing refunds for a couple hundred bogus speed camera tickets. (See below for a breakdown of where those bad tickets were issued). But he said he hadn’t gotten one or heard anything from the city. The Sun forwarded his email to transportation officials, who promised to check on it.

On Wednesday he finally got the news he was waiting for: His ticket had been voided. The $40 was on its way. “We received your information on January 27th , therefore you should receive payment in the mail in the next couple of weeks,” agency spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes wrote, explaining that the process takes four to six weeks.

Actually, the city received his information seven weeks earlier, back on Dec. 11. It’s unclear why officials referred in the letter to the January date. Barnes would not discuss specifics of Stumpf's case, but said the refund is "currently being processed."

If he gets another speed camera ticket, Stumpf says, he won’t just pay the fine as he did last time. “It’ll never happen again,” he said. “I will miss time from work. I will go to court and fight it.”

Chart:  In early January the city mailed letters to motorists saying that 287 speed camera citations would be refunded. The Sun was able to identify the cameras that had logged 275 of the alleged violations. About three-quarters were generated by two cameras on West Cold Spring Lane near the Poly-Western high school campus.

Speed Camera LocationTickets refunded1300 W. Cold Spring Lane (both directions)2133800 Greenspring Ave.211700 E. Cold Spring Lane W/B8800 W. Cold Spring Lane E/B7100 W. Franklin St. W/B62446 Frederick Ave. E/B31400 E. Cold Spring Lane W/B21400 E. Madison St. W/B23300 The Alameda S/B25300 Park Heights Ave. N/B12200 E. Northern Pkwy E/B16200 Walther Ave. N/B11323 E. 33rd St. E/B11098 S. Caton Ave. S/B13200 Wilkens Ave. E/B15800 Walther Ave. N/B14000 Hillen Rd. S/B16300 Walther Ave. S/B14182 Edmonson Ave. E/B14833 Erdman Ave. E/B1Total275

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