May 28, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 28, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Technology is great. We are now able to record anything and everything that happens to us or near us with just the push of a button on our cell phones. Then, we will invariably share the images with the world via Facebook and Instagram. Being recorded and pictured is fine when we want it, like a selfie or home video. But what about being photographed when we don’t expect it? Gone are the days of anonymity. Not only have we been transformed into roving reporters, but our streets are lined with security cameras that catch each movement we make, whether walking or driving. Chances are if you leave your home, you are recorded on camera.

At the end of this year, a pilot program, in which 24 New Jersey municipalities are participating, is coming to an end. The question of whether it will be renewed and continued is a current hot-topic debate in the state legislature. The issue is the use of red-light cameras at various intersections throughout the state. These devices snap a photo and video of your vehicle and license plate showing your alleged disregard of the local traffic laws. A ticket is then mailed to the registered owner or lessee of the vehicle. These tickets do not carry points in New Jersey and the fine is payable either online or at the municipal court clerk’s office.

On the positive side, red-light cameras have been shown to reduce accidents, and since the violation carries no points, the tickets are usually paid without clogging the municipal court system. Opponents argue that the cameras are not always reliable or accurate and are merely another tool to generate revenues for both the state and local governments.

There are two companies that set up and operate the red-light cameras in New Jersey: Automated Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Redflex Traffic Systems, both based in Arizona.

ATS has recently admitted to voiding 17,000 tickets issued in New Jersey due to a glitch in the automated computer system. But the complaints of inaccuracies involving red-light cameras are not isolated to New Jersey. An Illinois judge has been dismissing nearly 70% of all red-light camera tickets because the mandatory minimum yellow light display time of three seconds was proven to actually be shorter than required. In Long Island, New York, approximately 40,000 camera tickets were recently declared invalid by the local authorities because of unclear posted signage as well as inaccuracies in the camera equipment.

In the meantime, the New Jersey Legislature is not just debating camera citations in its own state. There is a bipartisan bill currently in review to prohibit the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission from sharing New Jersey residents’ driver’s license information with other states for the purpose of issuing camera tickets. If it passes, New Jersey residents will effectively be protected from out-of-state traffic violations if issued as a result of a camera. South Dakota recently enacted similar legislation.

Conversely, New Jersey and the other 22 states currently participating in the traffic-camera programs have enacted laws that allow for the issuance of a camera citation without requiring proof of who was driving the vehicle. Due to these citations carrying no points, the registered owner of the vehicle is lawfully responsible for the payment of the fines without regard to who was the actual driver. In New Jersey, 30 additional municipalities have applied to the Department of Transportation for permission to start red-light camera programs.

While I understand the technological advantage in using these devices, in terms of public safety, cost savings, and increased municipal revenues, it might be wise to wait until the red-light camera system is proven more accurate and reliable for New Jersey to renew and expand its pilot program.

Whether you love them for their efficiency and increased revenues or hate them for their inaccuracies and flaws, the debate over red-light camera citations will surely be a controversial topic in the New Jersey Legislature for months to come. In fact, one of our local assemblymen from Bergen County, Gordon Johnson, was a co-sponsor of the bill to ban New Jersey’s participation in out-of-state camera citations. In any event, we have an opportunity, no matter which side of the debate you find yourself on, to voice our opinions to our local lawmakers. Let them know your stance on this issue so that their votes can accurately reflect the wishes and collective opinions of our community.

Jordan B. Comet is an attorney with offices in Teaneck, NJ. His firm, Comet Law Offices, specializes in municipal, criminal, and civil litigation. He can be reached at 201-385-1900 or [email protected].

By Jordan Comet, Esq.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles