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2/21/2018
New York: Lawsuit Seeks Speed Camera Ticket Refund
New York lawyer files suit to force refund of New York City speed camera tickets over failure to file required documents with the court.

Israel Klein
New York City speed camera tickets are invalid and violate New York state law, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed last week by Manhattan lawyer Israel Klein. Klein argues the city dropped the ball by failing to file all of the required paperwork with the court before allowing a private contractor to drop the photo ticket in the mail.

"Defendants have known, or should have known, that New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Sections 1180-b(d) and 1180-b(g) require all issued notices of liability for alleged speed camera violations to contain a certificate charging liability, signed to or affirmed by a technician employed by the city of New York," Klein wrote. "Nevertheless, defendants continue to issue patently invalid notices of liability for alleged speed camera violations without a certificate charging liability."

Under state law, the sworn certificate is the evidence admissible in court, while the "notice" is merely the document sent to the vehicle owner to inform him of the allegations made by the city.

The distinction could add up for Manhattan, where the budget relies on the collection of nearly $1 billion in fines each year. The city's 2018 budget, for instance, expects $519 million in parking ticket revenue, with photo enforcement fines adding $119 million to the total. The speed cameras generate $66 million, red light cameras make $27 million and bus cameras rake in $26 million. To maintain a steady profit, the city keeps installing new cameras. There were only 15 red light cameras in 1994, a figure that grew to 150 in 2010. In 2014, the state gave permission for the city to operate 40 mobile cameras and 100 fixed speed cameras in 25 MPH zones, where a private contractor mails out 1.4 million tickets annually.

"Revenue from fines related to the mayor's Vision Zero program, such as camera fines, have risen steadily while others, such as revenues from moving violations, have only recently begun to rise," New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer explained in a budget document.

The new lawsuit calls for full refunds for ticket recipients, plus punitive damages. The request is not a stretch, as the city was forced to refund 507,668 parking tickets last year over a technicality.



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