Sweet: $2.4 million ticket amnesty in NY where speed cameras malfunctioned

posted at 9:21 pm on August 25, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

Imagine that. A bunch of cameras installed to increase safety revenue by catching everyone speeding caught a whole bunch more people than they should have in New York. It’s almost as if it wasn’t about safety first:

Nassau County of New York is forgiving thousands of speeding tickets issued this summer from malfunctioning speed cameras, totaling about $2.4 million in fines.

The Long Island county executive, Edward Mangano, said cameras from Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions near six schools were unreliable and issued tickets even when school was not in session. Traffic speeds are reduced dramatically during school hours.

“I don’t have a high confidence level that the cameras were operating at statutory levels,” Mangano told Newsday Friday. “So we are declaring amnesty with all tickets issued this summer.”

People who have already paid the $80 ticket fine will receive a refund and all 30,000-plus tickets will be dismissed, Mangano said.

Good on local officials for noticing and doing something about this. But this is just the pilot for a wider program, so things ought to go swimmingly:

Doreen Delach of Bethpage received 11 tickets, totaling $880 — all arriving in her mailbox on the same day this month — for speeding in front of Plainedge Middle School, where the limit is 25 mph. Delach said she was unaware summer school was in session.

“How are we supposed to know school is in session?” asked Delach, 52. “There must be a better way to keep the public informed.”

Jacqueline Peiffer, 67, of Bethpage, who got four tickets totaling $320 at the Bethpage school, called the summer rollout “entrapment. No one in the neighborhood had any idea about this.”

Eileen Fagan, 71, of South Hempstead, agreed. Fagan said she was unaware the cameras were operating when she received four tickets outside Franklin Elementary School.

“It’s a bait and switch,” Fagan said. “They are really taking advantage of the public.”

Hey, Doreen should be able to cough up a mere $880 for her misconduct, right? Pony up, citizen.

American Traffic Solutions, based in Arizona, makes a bunch of these cameras. The company’s system also resulted in a massive ticket forgiveness in New Jersey. The company was not involved, however, in Chicago’s mischief.

The Washington Post notes that with municipalities bringing in these outside contractors, and not necessarily overseeing their work (especially as long as the money’s coming in), you can easily end up with problems. I wonder how many go unflagged:

In some cases, that can become a ‘who watches the watchmen’ sort of problem: In the case of Chicago, some red light cameras that were issuing only one or two tickets a day would suddenly start issuing dozens per day — but no one seems to have flagged it it as a potential problem.

“When you look at the data stream, it just came out and screamed at you,” says Schofer, who helped the Tribune examine the information, which he argues begs the question of why no one noticed the anomalies. Anyone with basic programming skills, he believes, could have written a simple piece of code to raise an alarm when such unusual spikes occurred.

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I effin’ hate them cameras…

OmahaConservative on August 25, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Just like Officespace!

A fiendish plan to siphon “pennies” from an unsuspecting party/parties goes haywire with an errant decimal place. They could have gotten so much more but someone messed it up.

Too much too fast!

ELSIS-1 on August 25, 2014 at 9:28 PM

That’s okay, I see Mayor Crazy is back to getting his big donor some well placed real estate saving those poor abused carriage horses.

Cindy Munford on August 25, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Mother Gaia made pellet guns for a reason.

To knock down squirrels. That’s what I meant. Red squirrels. Yep. That’s what I meant.

Bishop on August 25, 2014 at 9:32 PM

Speaking of the surveillance state, anyone just catch that powerful NRA ad on Megyn Kelley? It was all about the NSA watching us. Wow.

John the Libertarian on August 25, 2014 at 9:33 PM

I got nabbed doing 21 mph in a 40. my altternator went south and I had to coast through the intersection. Truck just died.

No court, no judge. Unless you pay for one. There’s a fee for that.

$500+ bucks.

I haven’t paid it yet. And I won’t. That was 2 years ago.

The actual fine was $46. the rest was city fee’s. So I paid the $46 and told them to stuff the rest up their azz.

wolly4321 on August 25, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Suck Le Blew Herr’ Tabernacles sumpins!!!

canopfor on August 25, 2014 at 9:40 PM

I’d like to see the political donations of ATS. It’s corruption all the way down.

rbj on August 25, 2014 at 9:40 PM

ticket amnesty in NY where speed cameras malfunctioned

Speed Camera Lootery Vampires me thinks!!

canopfor on August 25, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Oh no, not another amnesty thread!

[I remember back when I lived in Cali … those red light cameras ended up causing more accidents than they prevented owing to people slamming on their brakes at the last second and getting rear-ended …]

ShainS on August 25, 2014 at 9:43 PM

BTW, I forgive you, Mary.

After reading enough of Noahs threads,, you are looking much better.

Perspective, or something like that.

(you have a sense of humor, I hope)

wolly4321 on August 25, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Traffic camera’s aren’t about safety or enforcing the laws, they, just like 90 percent of all laws passed in the US, are 100 percent about revenue generation. The States and the Fed tax the living crap out of citizens, and that just doesn’t raise enough revenue for those corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, so they find other ways to squeeze money out of citizens through fines and licenses and permits and a hundred other schemes that amount to nothing less than extortion.

oscarwilde on August 25, 2014 at 9:48 PM

My daughter got one of those tix in Hempstead. Being a “poverty area of opressed people” the schools appear open all the time forall sorts of stuff. Her ticket was at 12 noon on Aug.6. It was near a primary school. No summer school, just babysitting. Before the cameras the village had a cool trick. It had a sign for 20mph. Then a block later it was back to 30. A half block later it went back to 20. The thing that proves this is about money is the county said signs specifying times were not necessary. If it is about safety you put the signs up in neon lights so everyone slows down. But then there is much less revenue.

xkaydet65 on August 25, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Oh no, not another amnesty thread! [I remember back when I lived in Cali … those red light cameras ended up causing more accidents than they prevented owing to people slamming on their brakes at the last second and getting rear-ended …] ShainS on August 25, 2014 at 9:43 PM

Yep. That’s exactly what happens.

wolly4321 on August 25, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Yep. That’s exactly what happens.

wolly4321 on August 25, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Plus, instead of watching the traffic at the intersection, you’re looking at the light and checking to see if there is a damned camera there.

Those things are a traffic hazard.

MichaelGabriel on August 25, 2014 at 10:06 PM

If you live in one place long enough the cities always get rid of the cameras when the driving public buy a clue and revenue goes down. Then the next thing you know, they are talking about putting them back in. So stupid.

Cindy Munford on August 25, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Those things are a traffic hazard.

MichaelGabriel on August 25, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Who cares? They bring in millions of dollars per camera each year, and after all, money is what it is all about. Oh… you think not? Then explain why candidates for POTUS pay upwards of a BILLION dollars to get a job that only pays $440,000.00 a year. They will never collect as much on their salary, which is paid them for life, as they spend getting elected, not even remotely close. It’s about the corruption and money….

oscarwilde on August 25, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Rebellion is supposed to be what the Lefties do.

formwiz on August 25, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Taxation by citation

Iblis on August 25, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Let’s set the record straight…
ATS does NOT issue tickets on their own. The entity that hires them does that.
I know. For several months last year, I reviewed the video that ATS sent us. My job was to watch for violations and approve or disapprove the issuance of a ticket. If I saw someone “run” a light I hit the “approval” button.If they didn’t or it was too close to call, I “disapproved.” Only then was a citation sent out. I dumped around 60%.
If Nassau or anyone else approves ATS tickets erroneously, it’s their own people doing it. Disgruntled employee? Someone intentionally sabotaging the program? Right, wrog, or whatever you may think, that’s someone right there in your own Podunk, not down in AZ.

n0doz on August 25, 2014 at 11:18 PM

All digital cameras’s used for such surveillance and revenue-production should be declared invalid and illegal since there is no “hard copy” (a literal analog film negative, etc.) to base the presumed “record” of the “crime” upon.

The assessment of any fine with nothing more than hack-able digital zeroes and ones… in other words, on mere abstract numerical blips that can be manipulated without any way to determine if such a “rearrangement” [fraud] has occurred… renders all digital traffic camera data INHERENTLY UNRELIABLE, FALSIFIABLE AND THUS ONLY WORTHY OF BEING DISMISSED- AS SUCH, TECHNOLOGICALLY– BY ANY REASONABLE COURT.

No analog, no fine!

profitsbeard on August 26, 2014 at 12:29 AM

There should be a law that says that no one can be ticketed for a moving violation unless a police officer present on the scene personally observed the violation being committed, not some machine that can either malfunction or be tampered with.

Red-light cameras are even worse than speeding cameras, because many of them are placed on intersections where the yellow-light duration is too short to enable a driver initially driving at the speed limit to stop before the light turns red. In some cases, the cameras can incite a driver to slam on the brakes needlessly (and perhaps CAUSE an accident on a slippery road or if a driver is being tailgated), where the driver could be ticketed for passing through an intersection a half second after the light turned red, when crossing traffic would not have a chance to accelerate into the intersection.

People who run red lights flagrantly SHOULD be ticketed, but it should be up to a policeman’s judgment, not a machine, whether a driver who spends a fraction of a second in an intersection under a red light actually endangered any other drivers.

Steve Z on August 26, 2014 at 11:46 AM

This won’t stop the government extortion machine.Face it – the only difference between the government and the mafia, is the government pretends it is legitimate.

earlgrey on August 26, 2014 at 11:48 AM