Free: Fight NYC School Zone Speed Camera and Red Light Camera Tickets With My App

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Update: 9/13/22: The old software tool that I used to build the initial machine is going offline soon – though an exact date hasn’t been announced. I’ve since set up an open source tool on my server that requires some light code/YAML syntax to get it to operate, but at least it’s open source and not a private company’s tool that may/may not last. I’m hoping to have some time in the next week or two to get the coding done on a very light MVP for this ticket machine. Shoutout to those who have posted comments with great legal points, those who have emailed in their strategies, and to everyone: keep the fight going. Also, please don’t contact me for legal advice on tickets. I’m a QDRO lawyer, not a ticket lawyer. This is a free resource, not a paid one. I’ve gotten calls and texts at 3am – a few times – from people looking for help with a $50 ticket. I hear you – I’d love to help – I’m doing so through information, free tools, and software, not through legal advice or phone calls especially in the middle of the night


Update 8/8/22: I’m still working on migrating this tool to a new software platform and rewriting potential legal defenses. In a bit of personal news, I’ve now moved far away from NYC, but my heart still lies in fighting tyranny. The city announced that, as of 8/1/22, they were going to keep cameras on 24/7, which is INSANITY. (School speed zone cameras … at night … when schools are closed. It’s just such a blatant lie and money grab.) I’m hoping to have an updated version of this tool soon … followed by lots more free legal apps.


Update 5/1/22: a couple of months ago, the court overruled its earlier opinion in the Street case, essentially nuking this tool. The matter is still in dispute (two other courts have ruled the other way), which likely means more appeals and a chance the rules change again. You can still try the tool, but it is likely to fail. I am working on an updated version that fights the tickets on other grounds, but as this is a free service, it has to be slotted in behind paid work and dad duty.


UPDATE 7/6/21: Glory be, they seem to be seeing the light! Pure speculation on my part, but it seems like after the DMV ticket jockeys returned to the office, someone must’ve told them that this ticket bot has a point, as they’ve started accepting the defense and agreeing far more often. I’m getting two or three success stories per week. Fight on, everyone … at least until they hire a notary!

Another UPDATE: We’ve had a lot of people use the app so far. (Thanks, DeBlasio, you worthless politician.)

As of 9/29/20, I’m hearing back from many users that the DMV ticket jockeys are rejecting this defense, with the following rubber stamp responses:

  • Argument not persuasive.
  • CPLR is a civil procedure rule, which is not applicable to DMV clerks.
  • Ticket is valid, seal/notary or not.

These responses are crap and multiple court opinions have already addressed this and come to the opposite conclusion. But, the DMV is still ignoring the court’s opinion for now. Feel free to keep appealing, if you wish. The Court’s opinion and the law are very clear, but that doesn’t stop DMV clerks from ignoring the law for as long as possible. There is at least one class action lawsuit pending right now, and, should that fail, another will surely be filed, seeking to refund all tickets issued by the city, but as with everything in the law, there are no guarantees.

UPDATE: As of 8/12/2020, an NYC Court – the Supreme Court for the State of New York – New York County (Manhattan) – has ruled that the city’s issuance of tickets without notary seals is illegal. That opinion joins a few others from Nassau County and elsewhere. I built an app that uses the authority from those cases to help you fight back.

The latest court decision is here.

THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. If you need legal advice, hire a lawyer. (Not me for tickets though – I do wills/trusts/QDROs/Prenups.)

Original post follows:

You hate them. I hate them. Even with the city in crisis and schools shut down, these “school safety” speed cameras and red light cameras act as a tax upon drivers in this city, ticketing them just enough to hurt (and enough to add up to millions in revenue for the city), but not enough that anyone will fight back. After all, what’s the sense in hiring a lawyer to fight back against a $50 ticket?

That’s why I created this machine. These tickets – which are clearly illegal under state law and which courts have agreed are illegal in their current form – are still being handed out to thousands of drivers every day because the city knows that it costs more to fight back than it does to pay the ticket and move on. (That is true even if, like me, you’re a cranky lawyer that doesn’t have to pay legal fees to fight back.)

Personally, my wife got one ticket last year. (Well, the car is in my name, so “I” got the ticket.)

Then another. And another two for Mother’s Day.

While most of the city was hunkered down, she was on her way to fight COVID as an underpaid medical resident, collecting even more tickets on her way to volunteer duty. Some of her fellow frontline residents – who are barely paid enough for rent and food – have thousands of dollars in tickets from rushing to provide aid to critically ill individuals. Did I mention that these “school zone” cameras are operating while the schools are closed?

So I fought back. And lost. And lost the appeal of that loss, despite clear court decisions that an identical program outside of the City was operating illegally. The appeals were quickly dismissed by Department of Finance clerks as lacking any merit, even though the law is extremely clear:

To be effective such a [technician’s] certificate must be sworn to or affirmed before a notary public or other authorized official.

Yes, it’s that simple. The technician’s certificate that accompanies your ticket must be notarized. Or sworn to by a lawyer, doctor, or dentist. That’s the law. None of the tickets are notarized.

And despite a court in Nassau County ruling in 2015 that the tickets had to be notarized, neighboring NYC continues to brazenly issue illegal tickets because nobody will fight back. (The city could easily hire notaries to stamp the technician’s certificates, but they don’t.)

Well, almost nobody. In addition to my quixotic quest, another lawyer filed a class action lawsuit seeking to invalidate all of the tickets. All of them. And while he didn’t succeed in setting us all free from tyranny (the class action part of the lawsuit was denied), an NYC court did rule on August 12, 2020 that the form of the tickets was invalid and that technician’s certificates must be accompanied by a notary’s seal.

I’m still debating filing a lawsuit (which costs about $300) to fight my ticket even further, and perhaps seek relief for all of the other folks who are getting these stupid, illegal tickets.

In the meantime, I’m hoping you won’t have to take it that far. The following quick generator will give you a cut-and-paste argument to fight your red light or speeding camera ticket in NYC. It is not guaranteed to succeed – like I said, despite clear law, I lost all of my appeals that came before the August 12, 2020 decision – but copying and pasting beats capitulating.


Willie Peacock
Author: Willie Peacock

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