Free: Fight NYC School Zone Speed Camera and Red Light Camera Tickets With My App

Another UPDATE: We’ve had a lot of people use the app so far. (Thanks, DeBlasio, you worthless politician.)

As of 9/29/20, I’m hearing back from many users that the DMV ticket jockeys are rejecting this defense, with the following rubber stamp responses:

  • Argument not persuasive.
  • CPLR is a civil procedure rule, which is not applicable to DMV clerks.
  • Ticket is valid, seal/notary or not.

These responses are crap and multiple court opinions have already addressed this and come to the opposite conclusion. But, the DMV is still ignoring the court’s opinion for now. Feel free to keep appealing, if you wish. The Court’s opinion and the law are very clear, but that doesn’t stop DMV clerks from ignoring the law for as long as possible. There is at least one class action lawsuit pending right now, and, should that fail, another will surely be filed, seeking to refund all tickets issued by the city, but as with everything in the law, there are no guarantees.

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.

47 Responses

  1. Hi thanks for doing this! I used your document for 2 tickets issued last week in August, same week, 2 blocks from my home where I know theres a camera and never speed. The judgement was upheld on both essentially citing the ticket is valid seal or no seal. I know you said the same happened to you but what do you suggest as next steps? This is infuriating!!

    1. You can keep appealing, over and over. Right now, it seems like they are simply ignoring the courts and the clear text of the law until they are forced to do otherwise.

      Appealing through the “Pay or Dispute” app or website, per their instructions, is free, but may be a waste of time other than sending these idiots a message. Once an “appeal board” of DMV clerks rejects your final appeal, you are free to file a lawsuit (which nobody does over a $50 ticket, except for the lawyer behind the class action lawsuit against the city – not me – that has been fighting this battle for over a year).

      1. The Technician Certificate on my Notice of Liability seems deficient. The signature of the Technician clearly does not match the printed version of the Technician’s name. Do you think that is a good argument that I can use to ask for dismissal?

  2. Thank you for posting this. It’s so upsetting. I’ve been driving in the City for over 40 years without incident. DeBlasio narrowed the streets and trucks are triple parking on both sides along with frequent construction. This doesn’t seem to be enforced. My tickets were driving to and from doctor appointments and volunteering to deliver food through volunteer organizations. Guess what – I’m no longer doing this because of the tickets.

  3. They wrote that the evidence is not credible: “The respondent has been charged with failing to comply with the maximum speed limits in a school speed zone. Respondent states that the certification was not proper and invoked the Decision rendered in Monroe St. versus City of New York. This is not a persuasive defense as the decision applies only to NOL 5105637495. Summons sustained.”

    Complete BS!

    Anything you think I should add on appeal?

    1. Hey Joe. Sorry, I can’t provide legal advice (and am terrible about responding to comments on here – real voices get drowned out by spam, sadly). It seems like they are going to ignore the court’s opinion and continue issuing invalid tickets until a class action lawsuit stops them.

  4. When I click on the Camera Ticket Buster above, I get a blank box – no cut and paste argument comes up. Is this a glitch? I received a Notice of Liability/Certificate Charging The Liability. The reverse side does show the Technician Certificate but there is no notary’s seal. It was for speeding (41) in a school zone (30). I did not see any signs that it was a school zone. There area was NB West St. @ Leroy Street on 10/20/20 at 3:37 pm.

    1. Hey Roe,

      It must’ve been a glitch. The platform I used to build the app may have been down for maintenance when you tried it.

      Sorry about that!

  5. I got a speed zone ticket in a school zone going 12 miles over the posted but again schools are closed and I don’t think it’s valid and I want to fight it so what can I do Oh and the ticket is also not notarized

    1. As mentioned in the above blog post, you can try to fight it using the free app/copy-paste argument I provided. State law, court opinions from multiple courts, all point to these tickets being invalid unless notarized.

      BUT the DMV is ignoring the courts for now. Fighting will piss them off, and send a message, but unless you want to fight it, appeal, appeal again, and maybe file a lawsuit, it’s probably going to end with you paying the city $50. It sucks. We have a half-dozen of these, plus a trio of more expensive tickets that we got yesterday, to deal with. City is broke. Revenue by any means possible, I suppose.

  6. Hey Will,

    So i submitted it, it kicked me out of the system twice when I tried to submit it. They really want to just make you give up! They also wouldn’t accept special characters so the ” § ” had to be taken out before they would allow it all to be submitted. Now I wait.

    I find it funny that they still do this even though that guy Monroe Street won this case and that they keep denying people on this basis.

    1. Thanks for the note on the special characters – I’ll remove those from the app.

      I have gotten a couple of success stories back, including one that hilariously was a split decision: two tickets fought, one won/one lost. But for the most part, they are issuing these as-is, hoping that nobody files a class action lawsuit and gets refunds for the city’s motorists. (Seriously … all they have to do to make these “legal” is to hire a notary. It’s madness.)

  7. I’m disabled. Had few court cases filed as a poor person and court fees waved. If you’re interested to use me to teach De Bozo a lesson is civics, I’m at your service. Let me know, I have one of these profit by policing tickets on my table I know I’m going to be found guilty of if I try to argue it.

    1. Hey Sam. Got your email and I’ll respond over there, but in case anyone else is reading, I’m not taking on any cases right now outside of QDROs and estate planning. I prefer paperwork to litigation. I’d rather spend my time with my baby girl than in a courtroom.

  8. Hello, I recently used this information to try and fight a speed light camera summons. Thank you for providing this template to use. I will keep you updated and hopefully my summons will be dismissed.

    Thanks, Eric

  9. Hello Mr. Peacock, thank you for providing this service even though it seems that the NYC Dept of Finance are as you mentioned “right now, it seems like they are simply ignoring the courts and the clear text of the law until they are forced to do otherwise.” Anyway, I used your rubber stamp response and four (4) days later I received this rubber stamp verdict.

    “Respondent cited to Monroe v. City of New York, Index No. 158466/19 (N.Y. Co. Aug. 13, 2020), and a non-binding case from Nassau County which have been carefully reviewed. The enabling statute provides that the Technician’s Certificate may be sworn to or affirmed and a review of the Technican’s Certificate shows that it was affirmed by the techician. Though I recognize that the Supreme Court is a Court, I do not find the cited decisions controlling in the absence of authority so holding. The Monroe decision itself, by its terms, applies only to the dismissal of the specific Notice of Liability in question in that case. As the Notice of Liability herein complies with the enabling statute, and as Respondent does not deny driving at the cited speed, the Notice of Liability is sustained.”

    Do you have a rubber stamp response appeal to this rubber stamp verdict?

    1. I can’t provide legal advice, especially in blog comments, but to that particular DMV ticket jokey, I’d say that even if the Monroe decision isn’t “binding” and was limited to that single ticket, it should be a persuasive reading of the clear text of the statute. In combination with a similar holding out of Nassau County, the clear weight of the cases that have been decided so far are that the tickets, as issued, don’t comply with the clear text of the statute.

      In fact, I might edit the app to proactively address that bullcrap rubber stamp response. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Disposition: ADJOURNMENT
    Violation Decisions: OTHR MERIT CLAIM/INSUFF EVIDENCE
    The respondent has been charged with failing to comply with the maximum speed limits in a school speed zone. Adjourned for 30 days for respondent to make a FOIL request to NYC for the information they seek and submit a defense. NYC DOF , Hearings by Mail Unit PO Box 29021 Cadman Plaza station Brooklyn, NY 11202

    What should I do next?

    1. Not sure Tim – it sounds like you said that you didn’t have information from the ticket (hence the FOIL request – The freedom of information law is used to get publicly available information from government agencies). Never seen that response from the DMV!

  11. Just submitted will let you all know.. I got a ticket at 9:40PM at night and its was far from any school. Schools closed by this idiot Diblasio anyway – so how are they still giving tickets when schools are closed and it’s 9:40pm?

    1. Maddening, isn’t it? As were the tickets handed out for school zone violations when schools were shut down due to the pandemic. You wouldn’t believe how many of our city’s doctors were given tickets for school zone speed violations while they were facing the surge in March. My wife and her fellow medical residents’ group chat was half COVID, half complaining about tickets.

  12. Thank you for the template and very useful info. I just got my replay and the judgement was sustained. The decision noted: “Notice bears prima facie case and points to legally valid supporting documentation. NYS/NYC records show respondent’s vehicle in violation of regulation and does not corroborate claim. Respondent’s claim is unpersuasive. Notice is sustained.” I will appeal but I did want to share this anyone who will find it helpful.

  13. They Dismissed my Ticket

    Violation Decisions: NPF/OTHER INADEQUATE OFFENSE DESC. Violation Number: 4716391267 The respondent has been charged with failing to comply with the maximum speed limits in a school speed zone. Defectively written NOL is dismissed. Dismissal is not on the merits.

  14. Hey just wanted to thank you for this. My result on my end was denied. Couldn’t hurt to try at least with their bs.
    “NYS/NYC records and monitoring (photo/video) equipment show respondent’s
    vehicle in violation of regulation and does not corroborate claim. Respondent’s claim is unpersuasive. Notice is sustained.” *insert eyeroll*

  15. The Technician Certificate on my Notice of Liability appears deficient. The Technician’s signature clearly does not match the printed version of their name. Do you think that could be a good argument for dismissal?

  16. re: the “as” decision- please, explain your defense of the ticket. mr. peacock, please, get the defense, and post it=post haste. thank you, very much, indeed.

  17. Hello Mr. Peacock, thank you for providing this service.
    When I went to the NYC violation website and searched my license plate I got three violations for speeding in a school zone. However, no image of either tickets are available. Just says that this violation # has no attached image. Would that be a valid defense argument? If they cannot provide details of violation how they expect me to pay for something I cannot even see..?

    Thanks,

    1. Probably not. They should show the ticket in the app and on the website, but they don’t. If you reach out to them about it, they’ll point you to a vendor’s website, if I remember correctly, where it is available and they’ll swear up and down that they mailed you a paper copy as well.

      I’ve tried to fight based on the website says “no ticket available” angle and they denied it.

  18. I took a different approach and requested to cross examine all of the evidence that the law requires the automated speed cameras to adhere to. Technician training requirements, calibration records, and a few other variables for consideration to qualify the reliability of the data. In addition, I argued that NY state must conform to federal MUTCD standards published by the FWHA “Traffic control devices installed on such facilities within the State of New York are required to conform to the MUTCD, published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)”. I contested that the photographic evidence and speed camera “self-test” evidence is not enough to prove the speed and that the distance must also be verified. The FWHA manual does include a section that a speed camera should be accompanied by painted distance lines in the enforcement detection area (having trouble finding that documentation again).

    I also may have a a case with regards to the specific location of the camera in Rockaway on a four lane highway with a divider that happened to pass through a school zone. There are no approaching speed limit signs for at least a mile until one is posted literally where the camera exists going Westbound. The Eastbound lanes have an advance speed limit sign posted as well as a photo enforced sign. I don’t believe it would qualify as sufficient distance or advance warning due to its location compared to the Eastbound lanes. I did not state this case in my original response yet or explain my need for additional cross examination information outside of the standard FOIL information (which is useless).

    The NY law states ” 2. No photo speed violation monitoring system shall be used in a
    school speed zone unless (i) on the day it is to be used it has success-
    fully passed a self-test of its functions; and (ii) it has undergone an
    annual calibration check performed pursuant to paragraph four of this
    subdivision. The city [may] SHALL install signs giving notice TO
    APPROACHING MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATORS that a photo speed violation moni-
    toring system is in use [to be mounted on advance warning signs notify-
    ing motor vehicle operators of such upcoming school speed zone and/or on
    speed limit signs applicable within such school speed zone], in conform-
    ance with standards established in the MUTCD.”

    My first response from the court was as follows:

    The respondent has been charged with failing to comply with the maximum speed limits in a school speed zone.
    the images and documentation provided do not prove the vehicle was speeding. Respondent did distance over time calculations and believes the equipment is incorrect. The focal length and field of vision are not set up to provide a reliable platform for these calculations. These photos are used for identification purposes only. Respondent requests information regarding the machine, its calibration and operating condition. Adjourned for 30 days to give respondent the opportunity to submit a FOIL request for this documentation. Adjourned.

    I requested FOIL information but was originally denied and told to use a different system specifically setup for the speed cameras. The automated system simply sent me the video and photo evidence but none of the other cross examination information I requested about the technology used to calculate and detect the speed, the servicing technicians qualifications, the annual calibration test and the make and manufacturer of the speed camera. These are all within my right to request in a court of law to examine as evidence. The secondary FOIL request I made responded that the information would not be able to be retrieved until June of 2021, or about 6 months out.

    I responded to the court with the FOIL request delay and they responded with the following with horrible grammar and spell checking and even made an error about the 56 mph. Incredibly unprofessional for a “court” to respond with so many errors.

    “The respondent has been charged with failing to comply with the maximum speed limits in a school speed zone. In the initiaal submission respondent claimed that the distance travelled over the amount of time between the photos does not establish that he was travelling 56 miles per hour at the cited place and time is without merit. As stated by the ALJ in the order of adjournment, the photos identify the vehicle. The speed of the vehicle is not established by distance travelled over time as reflected in the photos. The speed is determined by radar readings taken at the cited place and time. These readings persuasively establish that respondent’s vehicle was travelling at 41 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone. Respondent also requested calibration information for the equipmebnt. The ALJ granted respodnent a 30 day adjournment to file a FOIL request for this this information. Respondent states that the initial FOIL request was denied and asks for a further adjournment. This request is denied as the calibration information is available to respondent by following the instructions in the notice of liability to view records. This information has been reviewed, as has the daily cameral log, alos available to respondent in the same manner, and these documents persuasviely establish that the speed camera at the cited location was in good working order at the time of this violation and that it accurately recoreded the speed of respondent’s vehicle.”

    From the 2020 mandated survey: http://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/new_york_ae2020_survey.pdf
    “10). By selecting school zones for ASE locations, New York has also complied with the federal guidelines which state that school zone enforcement has a “high level of support,” making it “a good way to introduce ASE in a jurisdiction”

    Can NYC prove they have a “high level of support” and how? Can we prove that they don’t have high level of support amongst the community? When was there a vote or a survey taken and how was it done?

    I want to make another statement but wanted to post my progress here to see if anyone has any tips or advice what angle to take next. Looks like there are a lot of blatant errors happening with other cameras in other states and tickets are being thrown out. Specifically in MD. I don’t mind speed cameras but I hate entrapment. There should be ample and sufficient warning that a camera exists for the purposes of safety, not to entrap people or trick them. Speed humps, blinking lights, and many other methods can be utilized before automated speed cameras. This system must be modified.

    New York City also responded to the mandated annual survey that their ASE is not audited. This should be mandatory for 3rd party auditing of their system otherwise it’s just a racket.

    1. This man, right here, is the real hero. Truth be told, I’d bet good money that most of these cameras don’t comply with MUTCD and I know of a few in the Rockaway area that had ZERO signs (at first). Seems like they’re slapping up the cameras and waiting until someone calls them out on the signage issues, at which point, they’ll toss that one ticket and put up a sign. Meanwhile, they literally make millions.

      Auditing every camera in the city for MUTCD issues would be fun, albeit a ton of time spent for $50 tickets. Which is, of course, the city’s entire business model here.

  19. I have a number of tickets that I have been been fighting with mixed success. Mixed is probably overstating it… I’ve been getting some adjournments, and some loses.

    You say at one point “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.”
    I would be very interested in chipping in and participating. Or even doing myself (ideally with your guidance). Or if you could point me to lawyer who is filing class action lawsuit.

    I may have enough tickets where its worthwhile. And several that did not include a certificate of calibration, which is required to be done once a year and records kept. But not required to be presented upon request some judges say, which of course is ridiculous.

    Would you be willing to contact me further to discuss?

    1. I wish I had the time or the money to fight this battle, but I don’t. There is a guy – I mentioned him in the app – that did the class action on the Manhattan case cited and linked in the above post.

    1. They were tolling the time limits for a while there, due to COVID. Did they stop extending the appeal times?

  20. Hello, Thank You for putting together a defence template for speed camera. When I try to download the template, I see a empty file with no text. Is it possible for you email me the template, please?

  21. They reject the NYS ruling by saying its non-binding and specific to that NOL case. My case just came back today.
    ” Respondent claims that the Notice of Liability (NOL) should be dismissed because NYC has failed to establish a prima facie case since the Technician’s Certificate is not notarized. Respondent submits/cites a NYS Supreme Court Decision, NY County, Index NO.158466/19 to support claim. However, the decision is not binding and refers only to the specific NOL in that case. The statute for the above regulation allows non notarized technician certificates as long as they are sworn to or affirmed and a signature is sufficient.”

    I would point out that the calibration certificates they use are very poorly written and scientifically don’t show the camera radar is calibrated correctly. But the Judge is okay with that.

    1. Yeah, these clerks are jackasses. The actual text of the law, plus multiple courts (Richmond, New York, and Nassau Counties, if I remember correctly) have all held that the signatures have to be notarized. I guess every single trial court in the state has to make such a ruling before these guys will just hire a notary… (or have a lawyer, doctor, or dentist make an affirmation without notarization).

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