Southampton Addresses School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Tickets | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

School bus stop-arm cameras automatically mail citations to drivers that pass a stopped bus. (Courtesy American Traffic Solutions)

The Town of Southampton has approved a plan to hire an administrative law judge to handle school bus stop-arm camera tickets and resolve hundreds of cases that have left some drivers in limbo since town justices have refused to hear the cases for the past three years.

As Dan’s Papers has exclusively reported, Southampton Town Court justices have refused to hear the cases, citing a judicial ethics opinion suggesting that it may cause them to violate their oath since the video-based ticket system has a lower standard of evidence and does not give judges discretion when imposing fines.

Traffic court handles such cases in the five western Suffolk County towns but town justices were assigned the cases on the East End.

“Whether that be in-person or virtually, we can work with the vendor to establish that process for people as we move forward,” Assistant Town Attorney Sean Cambridge told the town board before the measure passed October 10. “The important part is it would afford people the right to a hearing which they are entitled to.”

New York State legalized in 2019 photo traffic enforcement to ticket drivers who illegally pass a bus when it’s stopped while children get on or off of the vehicle.

Nassau and Suffolk County lawmakers approved legislation authorizing local school districts to contract the school bus stop-arm cameras later that year and the devices started being deployed district by district in 2020.

Under the law, violators can be fined $250 for a first offense, $275 for a second offense within 18 months and $300 for a third or subsequent offense within the same time frame.

“I think I am entitled to my day in court or should be notified that the case has been dropped,” Daniel Walsh of East Quogue, who is among the drivers who pleaded not guilty to one of the tickets he got in 2021 and has yet to have a court date, told Dan’s Papers.

Southampton officials say they would like to dismiss all of the nearly 500 cases that have been pending in the town as of August, according to Bus Patrol, the Virginia-based company that operates the program. Officials added that the legislation includes a provision that would allow village courts to send these cases to the town’s administrative law judge.

“BusPatrol is pleased that a resolution has been reached in Southampton that will strengthen the school bus safety program by establishing an administrative process to adjudicate these cases expeditiously,” said Jason Elam, a Bus Patrol spokesman. “We commend Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and the town board for their leadership and for ensuring that child safety remains front and center.”

-With Kenny Forman


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