The Arlington County Police Department has recorded a decrease in red light violations, and therefore ticket revenue, since fiscal year 2012.
The county currently has four working cameras, at N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway, Ft. Myer Drive at Lee Highway, N. Glebe Road at Fairfax Drive and Washington Blvd at Lee Highway. Each violation carries a fine of $50.
ACPD reports the red light cameras have brought in the following revenue for the last four fiscal years:
- FY 2014 — $236,792 (as of July 30)
- FY 2013 — $322,682
- FY 2012 — $444,427
- FY 2011 — $327,292
The police departments points to safety education campaigns as contributing to the drop in red light violations.
“We believe it’s a combination of people understanding and knowing locations of the cameras, along with being better and more aware drivers as the result of educational campaigns put on by our officers regarding traffic safety,” said police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “Safety is our biggest concern.”
Although they’ve been delayed for more than a year, seven new red light cameras are still in the works for Arlington. They will go in at five intersections shown to have high rates of red light running: two cameras at Columbia Pike and Glebe Road, two at Jefferson Davis Highway and S. 23rd Street, one at Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive, one at Lee Highway and George Mason Drive, and one at Washington Blvd and Glebe Road.
ACPD says the delay has been, in part, due to a Virginia Department of Transportation approval process. The county recently re-submitted information VDOT requires for the approval and hopes to hear back soon. However, VDOT spokeswoman Joan Morris told ARLnow.com the agency submitted its comments to ACPD July 1, and it is “not opposing any of the proposed sites since the signals are maintained and operated by the County.”
Once construction begins at the camera sites, ACPD plans to begin another educational campaign. The department typically offers a one month grace period when drivers will merely get a warning for running red lights at the intersections with newly installed cameras. Violations after the grace period will result in tickets.
Arlington County Police Department Chief Doug Scott and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos agreed earlier this year that parking tickets that were issued correctly could no longer be reviewed by the police department, and all appeals would have to be taken to court. The policy took effect Oct. 1.
Tickets issued erroneously — for example, a ticket written at 6:05 p.m. for a meter that expired at 6:00 p.m. — can still be resolved administratively, according to Stamos.
When the ticket “was erroneously issued, in that case… the motorist will come to the police department and they’ll take care of that,” Stamos told ARLnow.com. “They’re going to continue to get rid of tickets that were erroneously issued.”
Before Oct. 1, a driver who was issued a ticket could walk into the police station and request a dismissal, and it would be up to the attending officer whether to enforce or dismiss the ticket. For instance, sometimes tickets for compliance violations like an expired state inspection sticker would be dismissed if the recipient could prove they worked quickly to get their vehicle inspected.
“[Chief Scott] didn’t like the idea of officers saying ‘you know what, we issued it, but we’re going to recall it, even though it was legitimately issued for a violation of some kind,’” Stamos said, noting the previously policy was also a drain on police resources. “If the recipient feels that it’s an injustice, they can go to court and deal with it in court.”
If a ticket recipient wishes to meet with a prosecutor to discuss a ticket, they will need to fill out the form on the back of the ticket and receive a court summons first. Then, Stamos said, they can bring the summons to meet with a prosecutor and try to get the ticket dismissed.
The process still involves showing up in person on a work day, something many ticket recipients decide is not worth the time and aggravation. Occasionally, for out-of-state visitors, prosecutors will conduct a dismissal discussion via phone or letter. Stamos estimated that 90 percent of ticket recipients are local.
The Arlington County Police Department teamed up with 7-Eleven for “Operation Chill” to reward good behavior. The program allows police to “ticket” Arlington youth spotted doing good deeds — with a coupon for a free small Slurpee good at 7-Eleven stores across the county.
Some of the “offenses” officers might give out a coupon for could be a kid helping another person, wearing a bicycle helmet, picking up trash or participating in other positive community activities.
“We look forward to participating in Operation Chill each year, as these coupons provide an excellent tool for our officers to encourage responsible behavior within our community,” said Chief M. Douglas Scott.
Since the program began in 1995, Arlington County officers have distributed tens of thousands of Slurpee coupons to children.
Older ‘Quota’ Memos Released — Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott continues to insist that the police department does not and never did have a quota system, despite new memos being unearthed which set “goals,” “expectations,” or “levels of production” for arrests and tickets. [WUSA 9, Washington Post]
Documentary About Arlington Freedom Rider — A documentary is being made about Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, an long-time Arlington resident and one of the original Freedom Riders who fought against racial segregation in the South. [YouTube]
Contest Sends APS Teacher to Volcano – Gunston Middle School teacher John Stewart will be taking an all-expenses-paid educational trip to Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii after winning a contest sponsored by Wonder bread. While in Hawaii, at the country’s most active volcano, Stewart will “provide an interactive educational experience to his 8th grade students at Gunston Middle School, which will also receive 25 free tablet computers for the remote lesson,” according to a press release. [7Wonders of the USA Teacher Tour]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
An upcoming show at Synetic Theater has been canceled because of a snag with obtaining visas for the performers.
Light in the Darkness, which was supposed to run from today through March 26, has been canceled. Three performances of The Voice of Anne Frank scheduled for March 14 and 19 have also been canceled.
The performers are part of Tantehorse Theatre Company from Prague. Four of the six artists have experienced delays in receiving travel visas, and therefore can’t make it into the United States.
Due to Tantehorse Theatre Company’s other commitments and engagements at Synetic Theater, the shows will not be rescheduled. Staff members hope to be able to bring the show to the area sometime in the future.
Synetic Theater is working to contact patrons with tickets for the canceled show to offer refunds or the option to attend a different performance at Synetic.
A reader, Christine, wrote in to ask about a parking ticket she recently received in Courthouse. Here’s her story:
I’m writing because I’d like to find out if any of your other readers have had the same issue I ran into last week. I received a $50 parking ticket for pulling front-end first into an angled parking space in Courthouse. These are the spots right next to the big AMC lot (cannot remember what street). Apparently the parking spaces were “Back-in Only”, which I failed to notice (admittedly this is my own fault). What I don’t understand is why Arlington is charging me $50 for pulling into a spot facing the wrong direction?! It’s not as if I was parking in a zone I didn’t have a permit for, or parked over a line taking up two spaces. It also seems like a pretty easy mistake to make, considering the street is 2-way and there is only parking on one side.
I’m not saying I don’t deserve a ticket (though I believe a warning would have been more appropriate considering this whole “back-in only” idea is not exactly prevalent), but $50 just seems insane.
We reached out to Arlington County Department of Environmental Services spokesperson Shannon Whalen McDaniel for the answer to why the spaces are back-in only. Here’s her response:
It is a safety issue. Back-in spaces are generally safer because of improved visibility when leaving the space. On 14th Street, which has a slope to it, safety is further enhanced because the cars would roll into the curb if the brakes failed.
Is a $50 fine too much, or does safety take precedence?
Update on 1/13/11 — WUSA 9 did a follow-up story to this article. Check it out here.
Everybody knows that parking enforcement is strict in Arlington. So strict, apparently, that even this Crown Vic with an Arlington Police vest inside got ticketed on Clarendon Boulevard, near the Whole Foods.
We’ve also heard of federal government vehicles getting ticketed.
Unanswered question: If it was indeed a police vehicle, will Arlington use tax dollars to pay the fine to themselves?
If you run the wrong red light after midnight tonight, you’ll be getting a $50 ticket in the mail.
Arlington’s new red light cameras, which have been issuing warnings for the past month, will now be issuing fines. The infraction will be treated as a civil offense, meaning it won’t go on your driving record.
The cameras are located at the following intersections:
- Eastbound Lee Highway at North Lynn Street
- Southbound Ft. Myer Drive at westbound Lee Highway
- Westbound Lee Highway at Washington Boulevard
- Northbound North Glebe Road at Fairfax Drive
If successful, the county has indicated that it may opt to install additional cameras. Under state law, the county is permitted to install up to 20 red light cameras.
A ticket for parking at an expired meter is going up to $35. It was previously $25.
The fine for most other parking violations will increase from $40 to $50.
The county issued more than 225,000 parking tickets last year, bringing in $7.4 million, according to the Sun Gazette. The new fines are expected to generate an additional $1.5 million per year.
Also Thursday, ART bus fares and STAR transit fares will increase.