Speeding tickets deserve careful review based on E-ZPass glitch

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

A news story circulated a few days ago about an E-ZPass malfunction at a western New York toll booth.  The malfunction caused erroneous E-ZPass “speeding citations”  for about 3,600 motorists who use the electronic toll collection system.

The errors happened at Exit 59 of the NYS Thruway between May 28 and June 6.

Drivers received letters telling them their E-ZPass privileges had been temporarily suspended because they had gone through the toll booth at more than 40 mph.

These violations are not actual moving violations as charged on traditional NY speeding tickets.  These are violations of E-ZPass user rules.  Fortunately, there is no effect on a driver license or automobile insurance that needs to be reversed in light of this error.

Nevertheless, we can only imagine the domestic disputes that resulted from the belief that a child or spouse put themselves in danger by driving through a toll booth at more than 40 mph and, at the same time, lost the family’s E-ZPass lane access.   A mistake like this may not technically cost the victims any money when it’s all said and done but the anger and stress of being falsely accused of something is quite real.  We see that every day as traffic ticket attorneys in New York City…

We don’t think a story like this will lead to Judges suddenly questioning the accuracy of radar and laser devices.  However, we hope that enforcement agencies and courts alike at very least recognize that these speed measuring technologies are not infallible.  No one should ever assume a measured speed is an accurate measurement simply because a police officer has written it on a traffic ticket.  Enforcement officers should be required to absolutely establish that their equipment was in good working order and that it was used properly.  Clearly, mistakes can occur.

Submitted by New York E-ZPass user and traffic ticket fighter Scott Feifer

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  • A suspension at 11 points is not always mandatory. Some judges have discretion to waive a points-based suspension.