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New York City sued over red-light traffic cameras

Of all the methods used to enforce the vehicle traffic laws here in New York City, the one that probably causes the most resentment among drivers is red-light traffic cameras, which automatically take photos of the license plates of cars running red lights in intersections. Traffic tickets are then automatically issued to the owners of the photographed cars.

Interestingly, three men who were ticketed by the red-light cameras are now fighting back by suing the city, alleging that the red-light camera program is not being run legally.

Specifically, they allege that the city is violating federal law, which requires that lights turn yellow for at least three seconds before they turn red. Some of the city's traffic lights, they say, don't do this. A claim that city officials deny.

The plaintiffs also allege that the city is violating state law, which they say allows only 150 of the cameras in the city. They claim there are 318.

According to the plaintiffs, the city takes in a significant sum of money from the red-light camera program. Since 2007, the city received more than $235 million, which includes $47.2 million in 2011 alone.

The lawsuit wants the city to "refund the fines they illegally collected without proper cause since the inception of the red-light camera program in 1998."

Interestingly, the complaint also says that the drivers' organization AAA found some intersections where the yellow lights lasted less than the required three seconds. A spokesperson from AAA, however, indicated that they just looked at only a few lights and hadn't done a complete study.

Stay tuned for updates our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you or a loved one has received a speeding ticket or traffic citation, don't just dismiss it. Instead, 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.


Bloomberg Businessweek, "New York sued over traffic-light camera tickets, fines," Chris Dolmetsch, Dec. 5, 2012

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