“People who have had their traffic violations dismissed and yet are still being forced to pay additional fees are nothing but victims of an illegal shakedown” said New York State Senator Tony Avella in a press conference on January 4th with Assembly Member Michael G. DenDekker celebrating the passage of their Fines and Forfeitures Bill into law. The bill (S.5046A/A7230) which was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 22nd prohibits municipalities from assessing and collecting additional fees for dismissed traffic and vehicle violations. As they say, people will no longer be subject to fines or administrative fees when matters are dismissed. The law goes into effect in April 2016.
In the Metropolitan area this is especially welcome news where one local agency has been known to charge hundreds of dollars for dismissals of tickets issued for undescribed broken lightbulbs. For example, ten tickets issued for “lightbulb violations-trailer and tractor”, which are by law dismissible on proof of timely repair, and which in all likelihood stem from one broken fuse, at $30 per dismissed ticket would cost $300. Highway robbery indeed.
With all the negative news coming out of Albany, kudos to the legislators and the governor for shutting down this racket. Of course, with all things legislative, there could be some unintended consequences for companies and drivers:
- For agencies and municipalities that plea bargain or negotiate settlements on tickets, might they be less inclined to make deals? Or seek higher penalties to make up for missing revenue?
- Will the state push for a more hands on role in local traffic courts?
- Will the state look for higher surcharges on guilty moving violations (presently $88)?
But, the law is welcome news for the start of the new year.