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New York City To Confiscate Cars Over Speed Camera Tickets
New York City Council to vote on plan that impounds cars that accumulate a certain number of red light or speed camera tickets.

Brad Lander
New York City motorists whose speed camera tickets are lost in the mail could soon lose their automobiles under vehicle a confiscation ordinance that comes before the city council later today. Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) introduced the Reckless Driver Accountability Act in 2018, and he has used the time to line up the backing of the council's speaker, the city Department of Transportation, Mayor Bill DeBlasio and a dozen fellow council members.

The measure will take cars away from the owners of vehicles after a certain number of tickets are dropped in the mail by Verra Mobility, the for-profit company that operates the city's red light cameras and speed cameras. Under a compromise, the impounding trigger was set to a total of either five red light camera tickets, or fifteen speed camera tickets. Vehicles belonging to government entities are exempt from the impounding provisions. Before the car is taken away, the city must drop a letter in the first class mail instructing the owner to take a "safe vehicle operation course." If the course is taken, the vehicle will not be confiscated. Or if someone other than the owner was driving the car, that individual must take the course to stop the car from being taken away.

Once the car is taken, the owner is subject to the impound fees, a towing fee of $185 and storage fees that accumulate by the day. Impounding is big business in the Big Apple, generating $24 million a year according to the fiscal 2020 budget. The city is also likely to get a cut of the revenue from the "approved" driving safety course required for the release of a vehicle. Such courses are often operated by groups like the National Safety Council, which use their cut of the profit to lobby heavily in favor of legislation to expand the use of speed cameras.

In the event that a car owner takes the course and receives another photo ticket within six months, he could be forced to take the same course all over again. All tickets mailed within the last six months would be counted against the five and fifteen ticket threshold, so the same tickets could be used to force the course to be taken more than once.

A copy of the proposed ordinance is available in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Number 971A (New York City Council, New York, 2/8/2020)

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