Source: The Star-Ledger -
Thousands of drivers in New Jersey were caught on camera allegedly running red lights but were never informed of the potential fines they faced because of a technical glitch.
And the state Judiciary has asked local courts to throw out all 17,000 alleged infractions.
The state lawmaker who today brought the issue to the public’s attention — Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon —said it’s is just the latest example of why New Jersey’s red light camera should not be renewed when it reaches its December expiration date.
“This wasn’t 5 or 10 or even a couple of hundred instances – this total breakdown affected almost 17,000 motorists,” O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) said in a statement. “These companies incessantly tout the supposed accuracy and consistency of their systems – when the only thing consistent about the camera company representatives is their blatant misrepresentation of what the equipment does and how accurately it does it.”
Winnie Comfort, a spokeswoman for the state Judiciary, said that the issue was brought to its attention by the company — American Traffic Solutions (ATS) — on Aug. 10. Under New Jersey law, Comfort said, drivers must receive notices of the infractions within 90 days.
On Aug. 13, Comfort said, the Judiciary sent a letter to courts in the 17 towns affected to notify them, and provided them with a sample order so judges could dismiss all of the potential tickets.
American Traffic Solutions did not send out notices to drivers from May 28 to June 30, Comfort said, but the alleged infractions occurred before then and fell outside the law’s 90-day window.
Automated Traffic Solutions operates traffic cameras at about half of New Jersey’s 76 intersections that are equipped with them. The other company, Redflex, did not have the same problem.
“Recently a technical issue was discovered that impacted a small percentage of overall red-light safety camera violations,” said ATS spokesman Charles Territo in a statement.
Territo said the problem was brought about by a “server configuration change.”
“Despite the fact that all of the violations captured were reviewed and approved by law enforcement and the (Administrative Office of the Courts), out of an abundance of caution and fairness, many of violations were administratively dismissed,” Territo said. By working closely with the AOC, we have been able to resolve the issue. Each year thousands of potential violations are rejected for any number of reasons during the review process to ensure that the programs err on the side of the driver.”
But Comfort — the state court spokeswoman — said the AOC did not approve the violations because that is solely a law enforcement function. Further, she said the office asked the municipal courts to dismiss the fines because the statute requires it, not out an “abundance of caution and fairness.”
The news of the glitch comes just days after the former CEO of Redflex — New Jersey’s other red light camera operator — was indicted on federal corruption charges for allegedly bribing Chicago officials to help the company win contracts in the city. That came months after a fired executive from the Phoenix-based company claimed that the company paid bribes and gave gifts to government officials in 13 states – including New Jersey.
State Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Warren) on Wednesday called for the state Attorney General to investigate whether the company bribed any New Jersey officials.
“When a senior insider comes forward to say that red light camera companies are influencing local officials not with statistics proving safety benefits, but with gifts that are almost certainly illegal, we must take action,” Doherty said. “I call on the Attorney General to investigate the claims of Aaron Rosenberg that Redflex engaged in bribery in New Jersey to secure contracts for its red light camera systems.”
Redflex spokeswoman Jody Ryan said the company “has implemented industry leading compliance process and procedures to ensure this type of activity never happens again.”
“We are leading the industry in how public-private partnerships should be organized,” Ryan said.