By John Burton
Municipal courts in 17 towns around the state will now have to dismiss thousands of traffic summonses that motorists never received, allowing for an “a ha” moment for state Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon.
The municipalities had contracted with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), Tempe, Arizona, to operate and maintain the red light traffic cameras at various intersections. But for those recorded alleged traffic infractions between May 28 and June 30, the company failed to send the actual violations – totaling 17,000 – to the motorists within 90 days as required by state statute, said Winnie Comfort, director of communications and community relations for the New Jersey Judiciary.
“Apparently it was some kind of computer glitch,” Comfort said.
After ATS notified the state judiciary of the problem on Aug. 10, the judiciary began notifying officials at the 17 municipal courts that they would have to dismiss the violations in open court and on the record, as required under state law, Comfort said.
ATS provided a statement that said in part, “Despite the fact that all of the violations captured were reviewed and approved by law enforcement, out of an abundance of caution and fairness, many of the violations were administratively dismissed.” The statement goes on to say the problem has been corrected.
O’Scanlon, a Republican who represents 16 Monmouth County communities in the 13th Legislative District, has been a long-time opponent of the program. He has been a constant critic of the companies, the cameras at intersections and the issuing of violations based the so-called “red-light cameras, believing they are unfairly operated and issue unwarranted violations, costing state residents untold amounts of money in unjust fines.
“This is just another of many nails in the coffin of the credibility of these systems and the companies operating them,” he said. “This is just another example of the mess that these programs have become.”
The municipalities with the largest number of these violations are Pohatcong with 2,120 and Rahway with 2,013. None of the 17 municipalities are in Monmouth County.
Brick Township, in Ocean County, discontinued its program and canceled its contract with ATS in February, Comfort said.
The red light camera programs are run by private companies, contracted by municipalities, with local law enforcement reviewing the photos to determine if a violation had occurred, Comfort said.
“These red-light ticket programs are not a function of the courts at all,” she said.