HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Motorists driving through Suffolk County are advised to beware, as the new county traffic agency has begun charging fees on all tickets – even those it dismisses as “not guilty.”
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported on Tuesday, the new policy has left some drivers frustrated.
Michael Brust said he was ticketed for a stop sign violation. The ticket was dismissed, but the bill was not.
“My ticket is dismissed,” said Brust, of Selden. “Why do I have to pay anything? Why do I have to pay their court costs? Why do I have to pay any of that?”
Regardless of the outcome of the tickets, Suffolk County adds an administrative fee of $30 or $50 on nearly all of the tickets it processes.
“It is stupid,” said Royce Clay of Corman. “It doesn’t make any sense, once again, to have to pay for something that I already just got dismissed.”
“I don’t think it is fair to have to purchase back the innocence that was already granted us by the dismissal,” added Cheryl Ruebner of Medford.
Drivers have also begun complaining to their elected officials, and some agree that the new policy is a problem.
“Traffic violations should be about safety, not about revenue generation,” said Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport.)
The Woolseys of Selden called the policy an obvious moneymaker.
“They make you pay something,” said Sally Ann Woolsey. “You are not walking out of here not paying anything.”
Unlike most other counties in New York state, administrative costs stand in Suffolk County for labor and time.
“We want to make sure that we’re being compensated for penalties and for prosecuting the tickets, and what it takes to do that. There is a fee and a cost to us for that,” said Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco. “But we also want to make sure that the process is fair.”
Suffolk County opened its Traffic Violations Bureau in April to keep local control over revenue from fines, which previously went to Albany. The bureau was also founded as a means to close a huge budget gap – as much as $10 million is expected next year in processing fees.
Drivers now want Suffolk lawmakers to end the practice of charging motorists who disprove or correct the violations against them. And following a hearing, some Suffolk lawmakers agreed to introduce a bill to exempt most dismissed tickets from the administrative fee.
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