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The Charles County Sheriff’s Office began mailing out more than $130,000 in refunds last week to those who were ticketed several months ago when a speed camera was operating out of compliance with state law.

The sheriff’s office announced last week that the agency started issuing refunds to those who received citations from the automated speed enforcement camera on the westbound side of Route 228 near Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School in Waldorf between July 30, 2012, and July 31, 2013.

The Maryland State Highway Administration informed the sheriff’s office during the summer that the speed camera in that location was 300 feet outside the posted school zone.

That camera and the rest of the speed camera program were shut down immediately while the sheriff’s office worked to correct the mistake.

The program resumed in September with cameras near Dr. James Craik Elementary School and Maurice J. McDonough High School in Pomfret. Currently, the Jenifer site has not been put back in the camera rotation.

The sheriff’s office is mailing out 3,428 refunds to vehicle owners or any other party who made official notification that they were responsible for a violation at the Jenifer site during the time of the error and had paid the fine.

The refunds total $137,280, which will come from revenues from the speed camera enforcement program.

Richardson said it took several months to research and gather information on how the refunds would be issued.

“We certainly did not expect this to happen,” she said of the initial error, adding that the sheriff’s office worked to determine who needed a refund and got those refunds mailed out this week.

Throughout the speed enforcement program, questions have come up regarding why the cameras still are working when school is not in session, such as on school holidays.

Maryland law states speed cameras in school zones are restricted to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and jurisdictions can set times for enforcement within those limits. Richardson said the sheriff’s office enforces during the entire allotted time frame and does not exclude weekdays that students are not in school. She said the sheriff’s office wants drivers to be accustomed to what the speed limits are in school zones.

The camera near William B. Wade Elementary School on Smallwood Drive in Waldorf has a different time frame created at the request last year from the county commissioners.

Citizen complaints about the enforcement times in that high-traffic area prompted the traffic safety council and the sheriff’s office to look into and change the times to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and reduce the speed in that area during those times to 25 mph.

Richardson said the speed camera program continues and the location of the cameras are posted on the sheriff’s office Facebook page each week.

Currently the cameras are in school zones of Wade, Marshall Corner Road near Craik and Poplar Hill Road near Malcolm Elementary School.



Questions?

Anyone with questions or concerns about the speed cameras can call the Charles County Sheriff’s Office Automated Enforcement Unit at 301-932-3519 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.



gphillips@somdnews.com