15 mph speed limit, $500 tickets could be coming to DC

- There are discussions underway in D.C. and in Montgomery County to lower the speed limits in many places, and those discussions center around safety.

In D.C. the proposal also comes with big fine increases.

The D.C. Department of Transportation proposal would lower the default 25 mph speed limit to 20 mph on some neighborhood streets and create 15 mph zones 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. around schools, parks and in areas with high concentrations of seniors and adolescents.

The new proposed fines are for drivers, bikers, and even pedestrians. The ultimate goal is safety, and Council member Mary Cheh says she's all for that, but she wants to take a close look at the fines. She says in some places and at some times the fines can be too much.

“It strikes me as a way of increasing our revenue because it goes to the operating fund,” explained Mary Cheh, D.C. Council, Ward three.

Cheh says speed limits should be low in areas where kids are nearby. But she raises questions about lowering speed limits in many other areas across the city. She referred to senior centers where late at night going 41 miles an hour will get you a $500, and she fought against an around the clock speed limit reduction outside senior centers.

“It’s kind of crazy, right, 15 miles an hour in the middle of the night going past the senior center or past a recreation field. But what they've done now is they've cut it back from 7:00 a.m. To 11:00 p.m. That's still strikes me as, you know, a reach. So, again, I want to know show me some data,” said Mary.

Montgomery County is the only jurisdiction in Maryland authorized to operate speed cameras in residential areas, as the District does. 

Cheh will hold a hearing on these new measures in the next few weeks.

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