Faulty Equipment Leads to Refunds for Speeding Tickets

The City of Alexandria announced today (Wednesday) that several thousand drivers who received speeding tickets could be eligible for a refund.

Insufficiently tested equipment is being cited as the reason for the refunds, according to a press release. Eligible motorists were mailed notifications today, the release said, and can request refunds online through March 15, 2020.

According to the release:

A City supervisor first identified in October 2017 that speedometer tests on five police vehicles were not properly conducted. Following an initial internal review, the City Manager directed in January 2019 that the City’s internal auditor conduct a formal investigation. The inquiries identified concerns about certain speedometer tests conducted between March 2016 and May 2019. Some vehicles had not been tested frequently enough, and some service technicians applied inconsistent test standards. The City voluntarily initiated a process to void these tickets because it may not be able to sufficiently defend the tickets if challenged in court.

Out of the nearly 20,000 speeding tickets issued over that three year period, staff identified 2,169 speeding tickets that are now in question because of the faulty tests. Resulting convictions were vacated and the cases dismissed yesterday (Tuesday). The release says the city will refund any fines or court costs paid by motorists who received citations.

“At the City’s request, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is working to reverse adverse actions resulting from the original convictions, including demerit points and driving record notations,” the release said. “The City has implemented additional recommendations of the internal auditor, including improved testing protocols, enhanced staff training, better communication between City departments, and increased supervision and monitoring of the testing process.”

The audit did not find evidence that officers were aware that the speedometers were not properly tested. To prevent it from happening again, however, copies of the current speedometer tests will now be added to police cruisers and test records are now required to undergo secondary review.

“We recognize the burden placed on those affected, and we have taken significant proactive steps to restore public confidence and prevent future errors,” City Manager Mark Jinks said in the release. “Our community and our police officers should be able to expect that speeding tickets are based on properly tested equipment, and we sincerely regret that the City did not meet that expectation in certain cases.”

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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