ST. MICHAELS — The eyes of this town may be upon you, especially if you are driving a little too fast near the St. Michaels school complex zone. Speed cameras have come to St. Michaels.
The cameras began working July 30, and there is a 30-day break-in period during which speeders will not get tickets, just warnings.
Capt. Jeffrey Oswald of the St. Michaels Police Department said about 18 warnings were issued in the first three days.
Use of “Automated Speed Enforcement Systems” has been legal in many locations across Maryland since October 2009.
After four years of use, Montgomery County reported a 30% reduction in collisions and a 40% reduction in deaths or injuries in collisions near sites using them, according to statistics released by the St. Michaels Police Department.
How fast can you go before getting a speed camera ticket?
Twelve mph over the posted speed limit will trigger the cameras, officials said. The posted speed limit in front of the school is 25 mph.
Mounted near the street outside the Bay Hundred Community Pool, the speed enforcement cabinets are equipped with radar cameras that are programmed to capture a series of photographs of vehicles going more than 12 mph over the posted speed.
These digital images are used to identify the vehicle’s registered owner from the license plate and will appear on the citation, which carries a $40 fine.
Superimposed on each photograph is the date, time, location and speed of the vehicle when the photo was taken.
The citation is a civil citation, similar to a parking ticket, and not considered a “moving violation,” as in state motor vehicle laws. The ticket is sent via the regular mail to the registered owner or lessee responsible for the violation.
No points will be assessed, and a speed camera ticket will not raise insurance rates.
A common misconception is speed cameras monitor all vehicles within the enforcement zone.
In reality, they only record vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 12 mph.
Law-abiding citizens will not be affected because the cameras are activated only by an excessive rate of speed.
They also will not be operational all the time.
The cameras will be used from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to Maryland law.
They are being used in the school zone, which also legally includes any streets within a half-mile radius of the school. State Route 33/Talbot Street by St. Michaels Elementary School is the current objective.
If you receive a speed camera ticket in the mail, you can pay it or appeal it.
Payments are accepted online, by phone or by mail. To appeal it, you may request to appear in Maryland District Court by filling out and returning a portion of the citation at least five days prior to the due date.
Instructions for payment and appeal are printed on the citation.
If someone else was driving your vehicle when the citation occurred, there are further instructions.
Failure to pay the fine or contest liability is considered an admission of liability. Continued failure to pay may result in suspension of the motor vehicle registration.
Currently, only warnings are being issued in the 30-day grace period as residents and visitors get used to the system.
As of last week, Capt. Oswald said he had not noticed a significant slowing down of traffic entering or leaving town just yet.
Oswald estimated the first real citations will begin to be issued the first week of September.
After costs, the proceeds from $40 tickets will go to support public safety in St. Michaels, which includes law enforcement, the fire company and any issue that is deemed a public safety hazard.
The town commissioners unanimously approved the use of photo speed monitoring systems in town on May 16, 2018.
For answers to questions, call the St. Michaels Photo Enforcement Call Center at 1-833-600-6400 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.