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Wells Questions D.C. Speed Camera Fines

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There is disagreement about whether D.C.'s speeding camera program is about safety or revenue.
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There is disagreement about whether D.C.'s speeding camera program is about safety or revenue.

Speed camera fines continue to skyrocket in D.C., with some traffic tickets increasing as much as 500 percent over the past four years. D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells says he will propose legislation this fall aimed at lowering the speed camera fines. Wells says he wants to make sure the city's automated enforcement program is about safety and not about revenue.

"The size of the fines have really become problematic and I think that part of our responsibility as a government is to be fair but also for the citizens not to feel like this is usury," says Wells. "That we are not raising to just raise revenue."

he Ward 6 council member has formed a task force to study how "safety-focused changes can be made to the speed camera program to lower the fines." The task force will include AAA Mid-Atlantic, the DC Pedestrian Advisory council, as well as other stakeholders. The group will meet this summer and when the council returns this fall, Wells says he will propose legislation to lower the fines.

From a policy stand-point, lowering the fines will not be easy. City lawmakers penciled in approximately $50 million in speed camera revenue in the latest budget. If the legislation passes, the Council will have to replace any loss in projected revenue.

But politically,  it's probably a smart move for a council member with mayoral aspirations. And Wells, whose motto of livable, walkable communities has made him popular with cyclists and pedestrians, may be looking to court another segment of D.C. voters — drivers.

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