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City Council votes to terminate Sanitation Department stickers

Here in New York City, motorists are accustomed to the very real possibility that they can be issued a citation for any number of traffic violations on any given day, including speeding, parking in a restricted area, or driving with expired license tabs. However, there is one particular citation -- actually more of a public warning/humiliation -- that all New Yorkers universally dread: the window stickers attached by the Department of Sanitation scolding them for failing to move their cars during scheduled street cleanings.

Here the punishment is not necessarily a summons and fine -- which may or may not be there with the sticker -- but rather the embarrassment caused by the sticker and, most importantly, the difficulty in removing it.

In recognition of this pain, the City Council voted 47-to-0 on Wednesday night to outlaw the dreaded Sanitation Department stickers once and for all.

Here, the rationale of the City Council in passing Councilman David Greenfield's (D-Brooklyn) so-called "anti-scarlet-letter sticker legislation" was that the stickers violated due process by declaring people visibly guilty before even presenting them with an opportunity to demonstrate that they were innocent.

Not surprisingly, neither the Sanitation Department nor Mayor Bloomberg were pleased with this action, arguing that it deprives workers with a time-tested (since 1987) method of ensuring compliance with street cleaning schedules.

Still, in light of the unanimous vote, it appears that the new law is veto-proof.

In addition to ending the reign of terror of the Sanitation Department stickers, the City Council also passed two other notable traffic-related bills:

  • Motorists who receive a ticket while at a muni-meter will now be able to have it voided if they can present a new muni-meter receipt showing that the ticket was issued within five minutes of the receipt; Experts claim this measure will likely be vetoed by the mayor
  • Late fees on parking tickets will now start to accrue 30 days after a determination of guilt is made. This is a break from current law, which states that late fees can start to accrue 30 days after the ticket was written. Experts claim this measure will likely be approved by the mayor

Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The New York Times, "Forgot to move car? City Council votes to end a sticker of shame" Jan. 18, 2012

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