UPDATE: As of 8/12/2020, an NYC Court – the Supreme Court for the State of New York – New York County (Manhattan) – has ruled that the city’s issuance of tickets without notary seals is illegal. That opinion joins a few others from Nassau County and elsewhere. I built an app that uses the authority from those cases to help you fight back.
The latest court decision is here.
THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. If you need legal advice, hire a lawyer. (Not me for tickets though – I do wills/trusts/QDROs/Prenups.)
Original post follows:
You hate them. I hate them. Even with the city in crisis and schools shut down, these “school safety” speed cameras and red light cameras act as a tax upon drivers in this city, ticketing them just enough to hurt (and enough to add up to millions in revenue for the city), but not enough that anyone will fight back. After all, what’s the sense in hiring a lawyer to fight back against a $50 ticket?
That’s why I created this machine. These tickets – which are clearly illegal under state law and which courts have agreed are illegal in their current form – are still being handed out to thousands of drivers every day because the city knows that it costs more to fight back than it does to pay the ticket and move on. (That is true even if, like me, you’re a cranky lawyer that doesn’t have to pay legal fees to fight back.)
Personally, my wife got one ticket last year. (Well, the car is in my name, so “I” got the ticket.)
Then another. And another two for Mother’s Day.
While most of the city was hunkered down, she was on her way to fight COVID as an underpaid medical resident, collecting even more tickets on her way to volunteer duty. Some of her fellow frontline residents – who are barely paid enough for rent and food – have thousands of dollars in tickets from rushing to provide aid to critically ill individuals. Did I mention that these “school zone” cameras are operating while the schools are closed?
So I fought back. And lost. And lost the appeal of that loss, despite clear court decisions that an identical program outside of the City was operating illegally. The appeals were quickly dismissed by Department of Finance clerks as lacking any merit, even though the law is extremely clear:
To be effective such a [technician’s] certificate must be sworn to or affirmed before a notary public or other authorized official.
Yes, it’s that simple. The technician’s certificate that accompanies your ticket must be notarized. Or sworn to by a lawyer, doctor, or dentist. That’s the law. None of the tickets are notarized.
And despite a court in Nassau County ruling in 2015 that the tickets had to be notarized, neighboring NYC continues to brazenly issue illegal tickets because nobody will fight back. (The city could easily hire notaries to stamp the technician’s certificates, but they don’t.)
Well, almost nobody. In addition to my quixotic quest, another lawyer filed a class action lawsuit seeking to invalidate all of the tickets. All of them. And while he didn’t succeed in setting us all free from tyranny (the class action part of the lawsuit was denied), an NYC court did rule on August 12, 2020 that the form of the tickets was invalid and that technician’s certificates must be accompanied by a notary’s seal.
I’m still debating filing a lawsuit (which costs about $300) to fight my ticket even further, and perhaps seek relief for all of the other folks who are getting these stupid, illegal tickets.
In the meantime, I’m hoping you won’t have to take it that far. The following quick generator will give you a cut-and-paste argument to fight your red light or speeding camera ticket in NYC. It is not guaranteed to succeed – like I said, despite clear law, I lost all of my appeals that came before the August 12, 2020 decision – but copying and pasting beats capitulating.