Law Office of Lynne A. Papazian
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Albany Legal Issues Blog

Speed camera program in NYC could double in size

The governor of New York is planning to increase the number of cameras by New York City schools in order to catch more drivers speeding. In a statement to the press, the governor stated that there was 'indisputable proof" of the effectiveness of speed cameras, so it was the responsibility of state officials to increase the size of the program. As of 2018, the city used 140 cameras to catch drivers speeding near school zones.

If the governor's plan goes through, the number of school zones that have speed cameras would increase to 290. During the summer of 2018, the program's growth lapsed due to politics in the state legislature, but the new bill would allow more cameras, stop signs and red lights to be installed unabated. Many state politicians believe that the lives of children have been put in danger by not implementing cameras at every school zone.

Woman accused of speeding, driving with suspended license

One New York woman accused of speeding in a school zone is also accused of driving with a suspended license at the time. Yorktown police said that the 29-year-old woman was pulled over on Dec. 20, 2018, and accused of driving over 15 mph, the posted speed limit in the school zone. The Peekskill woman was identified via a state learner's permit that she had in her possession. However, when looking further into her identity, police say that they learned that her driver's license was suspended. Reportedly, her license was suspended twice, once for failing to pay a driver's responsibility assessment and once for driving while impaired.

The woman was arrested and taken to the local police department. She is now facing a number of charges, including speeding in a school zone and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, both of which are traffic violations. She is also accused of aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor charge. After her arrest, she was released later that day on her own recognizance. She was ordered to reappear in the Justice Court in Yorktown on Jan. 22, 2019.

Targeting motorcyclists for traffic stops

The presence of motorcycle-only checkpoints throughout the country are generally thought to date back to a 2006 incident in New York when an officer was killed pursuing a motorcyclist. The next year, police set up roadblocks targeted at motorcyclists, and many were ticketed. Other states then followed suit. However, on Dec. 11, the U.S. Senate passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the practice.

Restricting profiling based on vehicle type is done on a state-by-state basis, and Washington, Virginia and Maryland have passed laws doing so. The precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court is that if the police officer can justify the traffic stop after the fact, it does not matter what the motivation was.

Speeding ticket fines

Many drivers in New York will be issued a citation for speeding at some point during their lives. A motorist who is cited for speeding will usually be ordered to pay a fine. The fine amount could vary based on the offender's driving history, how fast they were going and if there were any aggravating factors such as speeding through a construction zone.

Many courts have a tiered schedule of fines based on how fast the driver was going. Some courts assess a base fine for speeding and additional penalties based on how many miles per hour over the speed limit the driver was going. Drivers who were clocked at very high speeds may face additional charges for reckless driving.

The importance of staying calm during traffic stops

Motorcyclists can be pulled over for a variety of reasons such as speeding or wearing an illegal helmet. When a police officer is pulling up behind a rider with lights and sirens blaring, it is important to know how to respond. Ideally, a motorcyclist will pull over as far as possible and turn off his or her motorcycle. This is true whether the traffic stop occurs in New York or in any other state.

While an individual may feel compelled to take off his or her helmet, that may not be a smart idea. This is because a helmet could be used as a weapon. Instead, it may best to simply flip the visor to let the officer see the rider's eyes. It is also a good idea for someone stopped by the police to keep his or her hands visible at all times.

Police targeting reckless garage truck drivers

While certain cities in the State of New York have a reputation as being not-so-friendly for pedestrians, not all drivers are reckless when it comes to adhering to traffic laws. At the same time, safely getting around on foot in places like New York City is sometimes challenging, especially when some garbage truck drivers may not be paying attention to traffic laws as much as they should be. This is why the NYPD is cracking down on garage truck drivers by stepping up efforts to spot violations and issue tickets when necessary.

Officials say traffic violations involving garage trucks are a fairly regular occurrence. Common issues include speeding, reversing down one-way streets, and running red lights. Specifically, the focus of the crackdown is on the private carting industry, which primarily consists of vehicles that pick up commercial garbage, construction debris, and similar materials. There are approximately 7,000 such vehicles on the road in New York City.

Traffic enforcement differs throughout New York state

Drivers who get traffic tickets in New York may face large fines as well as an increase to their insurance rates. While drivers can take steps to comply with traffic laws, where they drive may also play a role in whether they are ticketed. For example, Erie County gave out 50,000 speeding tickets in 2017 while Broome County wrote 12,256 in the same year.

Broome County is also among the counties that gives out the lowest amount of tickets per miles driven. Overall, it issued .92 tickets per 1,000 miles driven, and there was a total of 13 million miles driven in that county. The rate of tickets issued was seventh-lowest in the state. To reduce the risk of getting a traffic ticket, it is important for drivers to obey the speed limit and other posted signs. Individuals may be ticketed even if they are speeding in an effort to keep up with traffic.

Passing a school bus on the road

Many drivers in New York have been accused of traffic violations. For those in certain professions like professional truck driving, even a minor a traffic violation can have a major impact on a career. Unlawfully passing a school bus is one such "minor" violation that trips up many motorists. Overtaking and passing a school bus is a violation of Section 1174 of the New York code.

A motorist can be charged if they are caught by law enforcement passing a bus from either direction if the bus has stopped on a public highway, street or private road for the intent of receiving or letting out passengers. This law is meant to protect the safety of children who may dart onto the street after being let out of a bus.

Drivers respond to lower speed limits

It's long been known that automobile crashes involving vehicles moving at comparatively greater speeds pose a higher risk of serious injury or death on New York highways. Additionally, studies have shown that speeding increases the likelihood of any crash, injury or non-injury. And while speed is not the only contributing risk factor, it is the primary one.

Considering this information, it is not surprising to learn that various highway safety studies have been commissioned to explore the issues and recommend an approach to reduce accidents. The results indicate drivers will reduce their overall speeds in response to a lowering of the posted speed limit. While this alone may not be surprising, how a small change can make a measurable difference may be.

"Speed Week" aims to reduce speeding and distracted driving

A week-long law enforcement detail in New York known as Speed Week aims to target drivers who are driving under the influence, driving aggressively and driving while distracted. Prior Speed Week operations in the state have led to dozens of tickets being issued to drivers for a variety of offenses. State police estimate that speeding contributes to approximately 33 percent of fatal crashes in New York. Across the nation, fatal car accidents claim the lives of approximately 42,000 individuals each year, and vehicular accidents are the leading cause of death in children under 3 years old. Hundreds of thousands of additional individuals suffer injuries as a result of car accidents each year.

Speed Week aims to reduce the number of car crashes, fatalities and injuries by citing those who are violating traffic laws. During Speed Week, law enforcement officers will use both marked State Police vehicles and un-marked Concealed Identity Tracking Enforcement, or CITE, vehicles in order to target motorists who are speeding. Law enforcement officers hope that the use of CITE vehicles will allow troopers to more easily identify drivers who are using cellphones while driving, speeding or driving aggressively. The vehicles can blend in easily with traffic but are easily recognized as emergency vehicles once the police activate the emergency lighting system.

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