HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some Long Island drivers are livid, after their tickets were dismissed but they were stuck with a costly surcharge anyway.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the drivers have been subjected to the Nassau County Driver Responsibility Fee, in which $30 is tacked onto every ticket — whether the driver is found guilty or the ticket is dismissed.
“This is outrageous,” said Paul Keiley of Rockville Centre.
Keiley held a dismissed parking ticket as he talked about his ordeal. He was furious.
“I think it’s a public outrage,” he said.
Keiley and other motorists have just learned about the $30 fee.
“This is a money-making way of doing things – that’s what they have been; all they care about is making money,” said Nassau County motorist Sharona Abraham.
Neighboring Suffolk County made headlines in 2013 for its $50 administrative fee for dismissed tickets. Following an outcry, Suffolk County dropped the fee and announced plans to refund the charges against the drivers.
Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) said in 2013 the county made a mistake.
“I would say this is us recognizing that we had an administrative error in the way we implemented the law,” Calarco said at the time.
But in Nassau County, there are no plans whatsoever to drop the fee.
“The person that caused the ticket to be written should be responsible for the processing,” said Judge John Marks, Traffic and Parking Violations Director for the county.
Marks said a dismissal of a ticket does not forgive liability. For that, a driver must go to trial.
“You go to trial and then whatever happens, happens,” Marks said. “If it’s not guilty – it’s not even a way; if you’re not guilty, you’re not paying.”
But a trial could mean more time off work and possibly even hiring a lawyer. For those reasons, less than 1 percent of drivers who receive tickets even opt for a trial.
“All this time that I’m spending over here, it’s not worth it,” said Nassau motorist Joseph Dalipi. “I just pay for it and forget about it.”
And there was extra trouble for some who came to pay their $30 court costs at the Cooper Street Traffic and Parking Violations Agency in Hempstead. They had to risk another ticket just by parking their cars.
“We can’t even get into the building because the meters aren’t working,” said Eleanor Tillman.
Tillman said she may have to risk getting a new ticket to pay for an old one, because, “I have to be in at 11 o’clock or they will lock the doors.”
With the broken village meters and the $30 surcharges, tempers flared. A group of strangers gathered and vented about one village employee.
“Inefficiency — this guy was very rude,” one driver said. “You have people waiting on line here in the freezing cold?”
“He treats you like trash,” another man next to him said.
The employee who was the subject of the complaints said he was misunderstood and later apologized, and Judge Marks said he welcomes emails to explain and defend the county’s ticket policy.
CBS2 reached out to both the Village of Hempstead and Nassau County. Both agencies said they will work to repair the broken meters.