As of last Tuesday, cameras are outpacing police officers in terms of bringing in revenue for traffic violations.
According to the Independent Budget Office (IBO), cameras that catch driver’s speeding, running red lights, or travelling in bus lanes are expected to generate 80% of the money that New York City receives from traffic infractions.
That amounts to $50 million out of $62.5 million!
This figure is up from last year, where 75% of the $55.3 million NYC took in from summonses was generated through these cameras.
However, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says it is not about the money: “If folks would obey the speed limit and not jump lights and the city were collecting no revenue from that, we would consider that a victory, because the streets would be a lot safer.”
According to her, “We’re not focused on the revenue raising part of this, we’re really focused on the safety part of this.”
As of now, there are 150 traffic ticket cameras in NYC and 140 more are expected to be installed close to schools.
The IBO data reveals that the money generated from speed cameras will likely increase to 7.6 million in the 2015 fiscal year—up from $2 million the prior year.
However, the data shows that revenue from police-written tickets will considerably drop to $12.6 million. This is the lowest it has been since the 2002 fiscal year.
The Deputy Director at Transportation Alternatives justified this machine-generated world of traffic ticketing by noting, “We know automated enforcement saves lives, and it’s clear that these systems are a great asset to the NYPD in its role in achieving Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goal.”
The Department of Transportation claims red-light cameras have caused drivers to change bad behavior, citing the average camera issuing 8.7 violations a day, down from 31 daily violations when the program launched in 1993.
However, the long-term effects of this sort of program seem troubling. In a world where the overwhelming majority of the NY traffic tickets being issued are those coming from mere cameras, many are wondering what will happen to police officers.
If no officer issues you the ticket, who are you supposed to testify against?
Interestingly, the Sixth Amendment guarantees you a right to confront your accuser. Think about it: No person per se is accusing you of the traffic violation, only a mere machine.
Similarly, the photos need authentication and evidentiary support in order to be used against you, and, more often than not, they probably lack it.
Some California courts agree with this reasoning and have even ruled on the issue. In one particular case, a conviction was reversed entirely.
A ruling like this has not come to New York yet, but only time will tell whether the courts will allow traffic cameras to replace police officers or not.
If you recently received a traffic ticket in NY or NJ, contact Rosenblum Law today at 888-203-2619.