Until recently, drivers ticketed in Suffolk County had to pay an administrative fee of up to $50 to cover the costs of the ticket and plea being processed at the police station and any attendant communications by mail, even if their traffic tickets were ultimately thrown out. In practice, that meant that a driver who fixed a broken taillight within 24 hours of being ticketed, a grounds for dismissal of a ticket for such an offense, or a driver who proved that an officer erroneously ticketed him or her for driving without insurance when an insurance card was produced when pulled over, both had to pay $50 even though the charges against them were dismissed.
However, last week, a bill sponsored by Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) to exempt the majority of those with dismissed tickets from being charged an administrative fee was unanimously passed by the county legislature, a success for those who argued that it was unfair to charge innocent drivers administrative fees on top of the hassle of having to attend traffic court.
Suffolk County’s recently-opened Traffic and Parking Violations Authority has handled more than 50,000 cases and collected more than $10 million in fines since it first opened its doors in April. Approximately $500,000 of the total revenue it has enjoyed thus far has come from the controversial administrative fees on dismissed tickets. According to County Executive Steve Bellone, the Traffic and Parking Violations Authority will now issue refunds to the thousands of drivers who already paid their administrative fees after having their tickets dismissed. In order to make up for the lost revenue, the administrative fee for motorists found guilty will now be increased to $55.