The Maryland General Assembly session ended last week, bringing with it new driving laws.
The highlights include reforms to speed-monitoring cameras, move-over laws and drunken-driving penalties.
The Speed Monitoring Systems Reform Act of 2014 aims to fix major problems with camera-based speed enforcement programs by making it so that system administrators will no longer be able to earn a commission on each ticket.
The act also clarifies the terms where cameras can be placed and when the vendor would be responsible for tickets issued in error.
Jurisdictions with automated speed enforcement will need to designate an official to review citations and also establish a training program for administrators.
Frederick has a speed camera program in place, but some elected representatives did not believe the bill would affect it much.
Delegate Galen Clagett said Frederick’s program has not been plagued by erroneous tickets and other problems that undermined Baltimore’s automated speed enforcement.
“I don’t think it’s going to have a significant impact at all,” he said in a phone interview.
The city of Frederick already follows many of the new protocols laid out by the legislation, and a Frederick Police Department officer oversees the program.
Sen. David Brinkley opposed automated enforcement when it was first allowed because he said he was concerned jurisdictions viewed cameras as revenue generators.
He did note that there was a benefit to having people slow down.
He approved of the effort to try to improve the laws.
“Absent abolishing it, this is a positive step,” Brinkley said.
Additionally, “move over” laws, which require drivers to move lanes away from emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder, were expanded to include tow trucks.
Drivers who do not move over when there is room to do so can face a fine of up to $500.
It will also be easier for the Motor Vehicle Administration to require ignition interlock systems in the cars of people convicted of drunken driving.
One bill requires repeat offenders to participate in an alcohol-monitoring program for a year or lose their license for a year.
Another new law will make people convicted of drunken driving with a minor in the car participate in an interlock program.
Clagett and Brinkley both said they support the interlock laws.
“If you have someone who’s a repeat offender and they still don’t get it, you’ve got to have an interlock,” Brinkley said.
The two representatives said they would have liked to see more bills passed regarding transportation funding.
Clagett’s plan to set up a bank that would fund local road projects failed in the Assembly. It would have used corporate taxes to establish the bank.
The fund would grow as municipalities paid back the loans they took out for road work.
“That was an important bill,” Clagett said. “That takes the heat off highway-user funds.”
Brinkley said he was concerned about the amount of gas tax revenue going to transit projects in the Baltimore and Washington areas.
People farther from central Maryland would benefit by focusing more on highways, he said.
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.