Anthony M. Grandinetie

School’s Open: Drive Slowly!

 

           For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of opening a completely unexpected ticket in the mail, you may be wondering what exactly is a school zone ticket?  How do I get one?  How fast is speeding?  The cameras are set up by the Counties in various school zones and operate between the hours of 7 AM and 6 PM, but just because you’re driving by at 6:30 in the morning it doesn’t mean you don’t want to watch your speed, since the cameras can operate up to half an hour before school activities being for the day.  
            In many school zones the speed limit is 15 miles per hour, which, as we all know, is an insufferably slow speed to drive.  When I’m stuck in traffic on the L.I.E. I often ask myself why I don’t just get out and walk.  Up until the use of these speed cameras by the Counties most of us could safely fly through school zones at twenty-five (25) or even thirty (30) miles an hour, but if you happen to drive through a “camera zone”, vehicles that exceed the posted school speed limit by ten (10) miles per hour are liable to receive an unwelcome citation in the mail.  The good news is if you’re photographed at eighteen (18) miles per hour you’re not going to get a ticket, and the citations themselves carry no points and will not affect your insurance premiums.  But the bad news is that each ticket will cost you $80.00.  The ticket itself carries a fine of $50.00, but each citation is accompanied by an automatically assessed driver’s responsibility fee of $30.00, so the bottom line to your wallet is $80.00.  There is no police officer that will pull you over and go through the usual “do you know why I stopped you” routine, and no other indication given that you’ve exceeded the speed limit and been issued a citation and this means that if you happen to regularly drive through a school zone, you could receive multiple citations a day that carry fines of several hundred dollars and not even know it until you get the bad news in the mail.  
            Nassau and Suffolk Counties cite safety as the guiding policy concern and justification for implementing the new camera policy.  Regarding the issue of safety there has been extensive research and study pertaining to public safety pertaining to motorists and pedestrians.  Various studies have shown that a pedestrian who is struck by a car moving at 30MPH has a much greater chance of survival than if struck by a car traveling at 40MPH.  Further, it is not just that a slower speed increases a pedestrian’s likelihood of survival, but likelihood of survival is exponentially increased by a slight reduction in car speed.  That being said, whether you thing the government is just out to collect more money (which they will), the practical implication is that in order to avoid these tickets, drivers will likely slow-down, which in turn creates a  safer environment for school children and driver’s alike. 
            Notwithstanding the underlying safety concerns of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the new camera ticket system will generate millions of dollars in additional revenues for the Counties on an annual basis.  While we all want to preserve the safety of Long Island’s school children, the new policy has met with stiff resistance from drivers, and for good reason.   Many of the school speed zones equipped with cameras were set-up without providing notice to motorists.  The few sites that did have warnings posted for motorists have been, for the most part, taken down.  This means that drivers are, effectively, driving blind when it comes to the new school zone cameras.            If you have received a ticket, or multiple tickets for allegedly violating a posted school speed limit, you may be wondering how to protect your rights.  Fortunately, this is where we come in.  If you have a school zone camera ticket, or any other traffic related issue, we can help.  Call us at (516) 877-2889 or reach us 24/7 online at litraffictickhelp.com and follow our simple, step by step intake process.  In addition to saving you money in terms of fines and increases in insurance premiums, in most cases we can resolve your matter without ever requiring your appearance in Court, which save you not only money, but time.           
            These citations can be contested, and because they are such a recent development, it will be interesting to see how the Counties will sustain their burden of proof.  It is not enough for the County to simply state that Mr. John Doe was speeding and therefore we have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was speeding and must pay his fine and cannot possible have a valid defense.  This is, fortunately, not the case. 
            When a car is photographed by the speed zone cameras, two pictures are taken which are then reviewed by a County employee who then makes the determination as to whether or not the motorist was, or was not speeding. By attacking the camera itself, insofar as there is not guarantee that the camera was operating properly at the time the picture was taken, as well as the methodology employed by the County employees who review the photographs, it should be possible to create sufficient doubt in most cases as to whether the County can prove by a preponderance of the evidence (the legal standard used in these cases).  This is not to say that any of these school zone camera speeding tickets will be automatically dismissed after a hearing, to which each motorist is entitled, but the fact remains that it may well be worth the time and energy to consult an attorney if you’ve been unfortunate enough to open up your mailbox to find $560.00 worth of school speed zone camera tickets waiting for you.
                The bottom line is this: watch your speed in school zones, because the Counties aren’t posting warnings that you’ve entered a camera enforced speed zone.  You’ll potentially be saving yourself some time, money and aggravation while keeping the streets just that much safer school children, yourself and everyone else we share the road with.   

 By: Bryan A. Zuckerman, Esq. 
Mineola, NY, November 17, 2014