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DC StreetSafe FAQs

What is automated photo enforcement?

The Metropolitan Police Department has developed an automated photo enforcement program designed to reduce the number of violation to improve public safety.  The cameras help enforce traffic laws and reduce violations by automatically photographing the rear license plates of vehicles whose drivers violate the regulations.  

What is the goal of automated photo enforcement?

The goal of the District's automated photo enforcement program is straightforward: to reduce traffic violations and, as a result, decrease the number of crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives.  Since their implementation, the traffic safety systems have contributed to a significant reduction in red-light running and speeding.  The District has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of fatalities since the introduction of photo enforcement.  Because the units provide 24-hour-a-day coverage, they allow MPDC to be more consistent, more strategic, and more efficient in its enforcement of traffic regulations—a top priority of citizens.  These safety benefits are achieved without having to devote extra police resources to enhanced traffic enforcement.  Instead, police officers can devote their time to other priorities, including focused law enforcement, neighborhood problem solving, and crime prevention in DC neighborhoods.

How does the program work?

Cameras digitally capture and record violations including all of the relevant data images and video (if present) for the violation.  For example, when a red-light violation occurs, the camera records the date, time, vehicle's speed, and time elapsed since the beginning of the red signal.  The images are then analyzed, possible extenuating circumstances are considered, and the registered owner of the vehicle is verified.  A citation is then mailed to the vehicle owner.  Individuals may now view their violation images and video clips online (this requires the citation number and a unique personal identification number which are provided on the mailed citation).

Where are the cameras located?

The District's cameras are placed throughout the District. All locations are listed on MPD’s website: mpdc.dc.gov/automatedenforcement.

What is the District law authorizing automated traffic enforcement?

The law authorizing automated traffic enforcement in the District of Columbia can be found in the DC Code: Division VIII, Title 50, Subtitle VII, Chapter 22, Subchapter 5 (www.dccouncil.us, click on the DC Official Code link at the bottom on the page).

When a violation occurs, who receives the citation?

Citations are mailed to the registered vehicle owner, of the license plate or based on the USDOT number for commercial motor vehicles violations.

What if the registered owner was not driving the vehicle?

The registered owner of the vehicle is responsible for paying photo enforcement citations.   Liability cannot be transferred to the person driving the vehicle.

What if the car was part of a funeral procession or there were other extenuating circumstances?

There are extenuating circumstances in which a red-light violation will not be issued based on the photographs of the violation:

  • The vehicle was part of a funeral procession,
  • The vehicle was avoiding an emergency vehicle, or
  • The vehicle was directed by a police officer

What are the penalties for these violations?

The fines for traffic violations captured by automated photo enforcement are exactly the same as the fines for violations issued by a police officer.  (The DC Municipal Regulations may be found at www.dcregs.org with the search words “Civil Fines for Motor Vehicle Moving Infractions.”  The following are some of the violations that will be issued (current as of October 1, 2013):

Red Light T113

Failing to stop at a red light, failing to stop before turning right on red, turning right on red when prohibited

$150

Speeding T118

Speeding 1-10 mph over limit

$50

T119

Speeding 11-15 mph over limit

$100

T120

Speeding 16-20 mph over limit

$150

T121

Speeding 21-25 mph over limit

$200

T122

Speeding 26 + mph over limit

$300

Gridlock T206

Failure to clear an intersection

$50

Pedestrian Safety

 
T128

Failure to stop at a stop sign

$50

T751

Overtaking a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk for a pedestrian

$250

T759

Failure to yield right of way to a pedestrian

$250

Commercial Vehicles

 
T167

Overweight Commercial Vehicle

 $250 +

T339

Over height Commercial Vehicle restrictions

$250

T710

Use of truck restricted route

$150

Will warning tickets be issued?

Warning tickets at new sites are typically issued during an initial 30-day period of public education for that location.  After that, actual Notice of Infractions (NOIs) are issued.  There is no legal requirement for a warning period.  All motorists should obey all traffic signs and regulations.

Can a photo enforcement ticket be contested?

Photo enforcement tickets may be contested online, by mail or by appearing at a walk-in hearing within 60 calendar days of the ticket issue date. Tickets must be paid or contested within 30 calendar days of receiving the ticket or a penalty equal to the fine will be added, and the opportunity to have a hearing maybe be lost. If the ticket is more than 60 days old, a Motion to Vacate Judgment must be submitted to determine whether the ticket may still be contested.  A Motion to Vacate Judgment must be received within 120 calendar days from the date the ticket was issued.

Also, effective October 23, 2012, car owners are no longer able to transfer liability on a photo enforcement ticket.

In accordance with District law, if payment for a ticket fine is submitted, the ticket can no longer be adjudicated.  Evidence supporting the reasons for contesting the ticket must be provided.

For more information about how to contest a photo enforced ticket, go to the District’s Department of Motor Vehicle’s website.

Is the timing of yellow lights on traffic signals set at a minimum to ticket more drivers for red light violations?

The District’s yellow light change interval is longer than the requirements set by the Federal Highway Administration.  The table below is based on are based on a negligible approach grade.  Times at downhill grades are longer.

Table 1: Duration of change period intervals from the FWHA Traffic Signal Timing Manual, Chapter 5

Approach Speed, mph Federal Yellow Interval
25 3.0
30 3.2
35 3.6
40 3.9
45 4.3
50 4.7
55 5.0
60 5.4