Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier says $50 or less tickets from speed cameras will provide “absolutely no deterrent” and that speeders will consider the fines at that level the “cost of doing business.”

Consider it a $100 toll (there and back) on your daily commute. You won’t even notice.

Lanier’s comments came just moments ago at a news conference announcing that the city is reducing the fines for the bulk of its speed camera tickets from $125 to $100. The move comes after months of displeasure from the city’s drivers and a few weeks after a couple of councilmembers proposed reducing the fines to $50.

Speed camera tickets in Maryland are set at $40. A study done by Montogomery County found that that’s plenty high enough to slow drivers down.

Says Ward 6 Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells, who convened a task force to study speed camera fines and is proposing the drop to $50: “There is little to no correlation of a higher fine and increased compliance with the speed limits.”

Also backing up those findings: common sense. Does Lanier (whose $250,000-a-year salary puts her very close to being part of the 1 percent) think the roads are full of people who can afford to regularly shrug off $50 tickets but will somehow slow down for $100 tickets? Apparently so.

It should also be noted that despite Mayor Vince Gray‘s assertions that speed camera tickets are entirely about public safety and not about raising revenue, his budget director pointed out at the news conference that under the mayor’s proposal, the city would have $3.5 million more in speed camera revenues than what’s currently projected for the fiscal 2013 budget, while the $50-fine proposal would leave a $30 million hole in the budget. To make it harder for the council to to undercut his proposal, Gray is planning to spend that $3.5 million on hiring 100 new police officers.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery