Speed en­force­ment when school is out is ex­ces­sive

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum -

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

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