If you've earned a red-light camera citation and want to challenge the ticket here's what you need to know to maneuver through the court procedures.
NOTE: Even if it is obvious from the photo that you are not the person driving, you will still need to appear — several times.
Before you even start to interact with the agency which issued the ticket, take these steps.
Conversations are Recorded
Always assume all phone conversations are being recorded. When you're on the phone assume every word you say is being captured. Don't incriminate yourself and never say you were the driver in the video. Don't discuss the details on the phone or try to defend yourself. The Customer Service rep will try to convince you to pay by admitting you were the driver.
In New York, the plaintiff is the camera vendor — the company who sold the traffic cameras to the city and state. This is important to know as you are not being ticketed for a moving violation.
A question you must ask early in the process is "What law am I accused of violating?" That is an unanswerable question as the driver of the vehicle is not on trial. You should never admit you were the driver and when the DA starts saying things like, "The people…", blurt out "OBJECTION." Point out this is a civil case and not a criminal case. The accusers are not the people of New York.
Ask for Certificate
Be certain to request a copy of the camera vendors' ‘Technician Certificate' before the hearing. A New York City employee allegedly reviews each video for each ticket issued. You have the right to question the technician to make sure the equipment is in working order.
The only requirement for a ‘technician' is a high school diploma. The goal is to undermine the individual by pointing out their deficit of skills in distributing tickets. In New York, only a police officer is allowed to issue tickets.
Request for an expert to appear to explain precisely how the camera equipment is used as an accusatory instrument.
Demand a Refund
The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law limits a fine to $50 with an additional $25 if the fee is paid late. If you cover the ticket before the deadline, you would only pay $50. Any other fees tacked on is illegal as are any late fees above the $25 figure.
Object and Demand
Make it your goal to object to anything the D presents. Don't discuss who was driving either. The driver is not being questioned at the hearing. If the judge, or hearing officer, says something like, "You did not stop," object and remind him that the accusation doesn't have anything to do with a moving violation.
If you are presented with a copy of the "Technician's Certification" demand to see their qualifications and ask the judge for those qualifications. Demand to know if the technician is a law enforcement (police) officer as only law enforcement is authorized to issue tickets.
Request the technician appear in person and object to what you are being blamed for.
Yes, this sounds like a lot of work to save $50. Remember, the fines can add up and could even boost your insurance rates.