Speed enforcement when school is out is excessive
Ugh. I recently received another $40 “Speed Monitoring Violation” in the mail for traveling Mt. Harmony Road in Owings in front of Mt. Harmony Elementary School. It seems my excessive speed of 42 mph in a 40 mph zone was captured on film Aug. 9 at 3:32 p.m. — while all Calvert County schools were closed for summer break. Yes, that is 2 miles over the speed limit. Guilty. And yes, there is a faded little sign, as you approach the school, stating the speed limit is 25 mph Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. OK, that makes sense, but sense only when school is in session, no?
Maybe this wouldn’t even be a thing if this was just a onetime speeding event. Likely, I would’ve just rolled my eyes and paid the ticket begrudgingly. But this is my third ticket at the same location — the first being on Christmas Eve last year at 4:05 p.m. going crazy at 37 mph on the 40 mph thoroughfare. Schools are closed on Christmas Eve, right? While that one was being processed in Hagerstown, I guess I was at it again. The second one was on Dec. 30 at 2:25 p.m., passing the elementary school at a blazing speed of 37 mph. Schools are still closed.
When I received these tickets in the mail, I immediately replied requesting a court date — which was set for May 1 at 9 a.m. Standing room only in Calvert County District Court. A litany of defendants, one by one, approached the bench and, to my surprise, were there fighting the same speeding violation at the same location. Different dates and times of day, but all during times all county schools were closed.
One defendant, one of my children’s teachers at Northern High School, was there fighting the same unfair ticket received on Chaneyville Road, in front of the high school, claiming school was closed the day of her “vio- lation” and that she was doing a speed that was under the normal posted limit. This nice teacher told the judge she was just going to her class to get some papers to bring home to grade during winter break and how a lot of her colleagues have griped about the same issue and she wanted to make sure their voices were heard.
District Judge Michelle Saunders was on the bench that morning and patiently listened to the litany of “explanations” from the litany of “defendants.” There was a police officer in the courtroom. Not sure his role, but with a shrug of his shoulders, he brought to light the simple fact that the “posted” speed limit sign stated Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.4:30 p.m. Period. So, with that, no one received leniency that morning in court. We all still had to pay $40, in addition to wasting our time and missing time from income-producing work. What a racket.
So, note to readers: Regardless of whether school is in session or not at Mt. Harmony Elementary School, the speed limit is 25 mph Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Period. Probably the same on Chaneyville Road in front of Northern High School.
Hmm, I don’t recall hearing similar gripes that morning in court about speeding violations in front of any other Calvert County public school. Now that I think about it, I wonder why that is?
I don’t have the time or energy to actually research the “unconstitutionality” of this nonsense. But I will find the time and energy to take this recent Aug. 9 middle-of-summer-break “speeding” ticket to court in probably four or five months from now — this time, just for grins. Good times.
Russ Abbott, Owings