Thousands of Serial Traffic Violators in New York City Go Unpunished


Last week’s deadly collision in Brooklyn that killed two children has revived calls for a crackdown on traffic violations across the city. But an analysis of city data shows how difficult it has been for law enforcement to deter even the most egregious offenders.

City records of violations issued by automated red-light and speed-zone cameras show that the license plate that was on the car involved in last week’s deadly crash had been cited four times for running red lights and four times for speeding in school zones between July 29, 2016, and the end of February 2018.

Across the city during that 19-month period, more than 19,000 license plates on passenger vehicles racked up eight or more violations for running red lights, speeding in school zones or a combination of the two, a Wall Street Journal analysis of the city data shows.

There were 36 license plates that were issued 40 or more of those types of citations during the period. One passenger car with a New York license plate racked up 65 violations for speeding in a school zone. A New Jersey license plate had 28 red-light citations for the same period.

Yet state law makes it possible for serial violators to avoid harsh punishment.

That is because driving violations caught on a camera are tied to a vehicle, not to individual drivers. The fine for camera tickets is $50, and if it is paid the city doesn’t report the violation to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

The city can report unpaid tickets to the DMV and, according to a spokeswoman for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state can suspend a vehicle registration for three unpaid red-light or speed-camera violations within an 18-month period. The suspension stems from the failure to pay the violation.

Drivers themselves are issued summonses only when police conduct vehicle stops. Convictions for speeding, for example, can appear on a driver’s record, result in penalty points on a driver’s license and cost hundreds of dollars in fines and surcharges. Three such convictions in 18 months could trigger a license to be suspended. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.



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