How A Woman Beat Her NY Red Light Camera Ticket

Beating a red light camera ticket is like winning the lottery.  Generally, unless you can prove an expected  mechanical failure, genuine and urgent emergency, stolen car or some other extraordinary defense, you’re pretty much sunk.  A video of you committing the offense pretty much is all that is needed to prove the case against you.  Or is it?

Ask Debbie Eisenstadt.  I have never met or spoken with Debbie but, like 1,000s of New Yorkers, she received a red light camera ticket. Allegedly her car was traveling eastbound at the intersection of Manetto Hill and Plainview Roads on March 5, 2011.   Debbie, however, refused to simply plead guilty and pay the nominal $50 fine and $30 administrative fee. Instead, she demanded a non-jury trial where she was found guilty.  But Debbie was not done yet.  She appealed the conviction to the Appellate Term, Second Department and won!!!  So how did Debbie beat her ticket on appeal?

At the hearing, the People introduced a technician’s certificate as prima facie evidence of the alleged offense.  The certificate was affirmed by the technician and stated that Debbie had not fully stopped at the subject red light.  The Nassau County Traffic Violations & Parking Agency (Marks, J.) admitted the certificate even though Debbie had argued that it was not in the proper form.  Specifically, she pointed out that it was not notarized, only “affirmed”.

On appeal, the Appellate Term agreed with Debbie.  That higher court explained that, pursuant to 2106, only “an attorney, physician, osteopath or dentist authorized to practice in the State of New York and serve and file an affirmation” (i.e., un-notarized document) in place of an affidavit.  Because the certificate in Debbie’s case was not sworn to or affirmed before a notary pubic or other authorized individual, the certificate was found to lack any probative value, and should not have been admitted into evidence.  Without a certificate to support its case, the People had therefore failed to make out a legally sufficient case against Debbie.

Result:  Judgment reversed and case dismissed.  A link to the actual decision is below.

Congratulations Debbie on your perseverance and successful appeal!

Debbie Einsenstadt Red Light Camera Decision

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50 Comments. Leave new

  • If i received a red light camera ticket and the plate number is not clearly visible, how do they determine who is the owner. Is it put into a data base and whatever comes closest receives the summons. Do i have any way to argue this?

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      August 11, 2020 5:25 pm

      James Mulvey,

      If the plate number cannot be read, then generally a camera ticket will not be issued.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • If I refuse to pay the “Red Light Safety Program” fine will I still be able to renew my license? I realize they can send it to collections which may affect my credit but I’m more worried about it affecting my NY Driver’s License.

    Reply
  • NICKOLAS MULLER
    April 24, 2019 8:16 pm

    Wow Mathew, that’s a lot of people asking questions. Your a good man to answer them. Mine is that the court says ” we the people” . Is it not a liability and not criminal ?

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      April 25, 2019 12:00 am

      NICKOLAS MULLER,

      Thanks for your kind remarks. A camera ticket is a civil matter, not criminal.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I only found out about an alleged red light camera ticket for speed (and a parking ticket) from 4 years ago by having a boot on my car (they gave me a printout with minimal info when I returned the boot). I was forced to pay over $800 and have no idea what the tickets are for, no notice was ever given. How can I or anyone in the same situation fight for a refund after being forced to pay without any notice? TPVA said ask your lawyer, can’t afford one thanks lol. Thanks

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      August 16, 2018 1:38 pm

      Dayna,

      Because we do not handle camera tickets, I cannot answer that question. With that said, I doubt that you’ll be successful in getting a refund. Sorry.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I rec’d a violation at an intersection that the intersection paint was clearly rubbed away in the lane that I was traveling in. It was a ‘right on red arrow’ that turned red as I approached the intersection. From the rear angle of the camera it’s very difficult to say that for sure I was “in the intersection” due to the rubbed away paint and the angle of the camera. Worth fighting?

    Reply
  • Hello there
    I just want clarification and a few questions answered on how is it legal to get a red light ticket if you aren’t the one driving.
    This is my case i’m extremely pissed off I just received a red light ticket in the mail and I definitely wasn’t driving this car, I have multiple cars and this particular one I rarely drive because it has issues. Well it seems someone drove it with out my permission and then parked it back with out my knowledge, know would that be considered theft? no one is claiming to have driven it in my household. I am very very mad and frustrated that I am being forced to pay a $150 ticket.
    1. I just don’t get it how am I responsible for a moving violation as severe as running a red light,
    2.I thought it had to be issued by a law enforcement officer for it to be valid.
    3. Don’t I have the right to face my accuser and challenge the validity of the ticket?
    4. Can I have and demand the person who issued this illegal ticket face me in the court of law and tell me with out a reasonable doubt that it was I that ran the red light .
    5. How did these illegal devices ever get passed and installed by the Nassau county residents and tax payers . This just sucks the more I research this the worst it gets it seems that someone is getting greased underneath the table to keep these devices active.

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      February 2, 2018 7:20 am

      Angelo,

      Answers below in bold:

      1. I just don’t get it how am I responsible for a moving violation as severe as running a red light. Primarily because this ticket is not a moving violation and, therefore, cannot affect your driving privileges. It is akin to a parking ticket.

      2.I thought it had to be issued by a law enforcement officer for it to be valid. See response to #1.

      3. Don’t I have the right to face my accuser and challenge the validity of the ticket? See response to #1.

      4. Can I have and demand the person who issued this illegal ticket face me in the court of law and tell me with out a reasonable doubt that it was I that ran the red light. See response to #1.

      5. How did these illegal devices ever get passed and installed by the Nassau county residents and taxpayers. These devices were not installed by Nassau county residents and taxpayers. You can blame the politicians for this one.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • In Nassau County, if you don’t file for an appeal of your red light camera conviction within 30 days, then your right to an appeal is denied. This being said, I got a red light camera NOL in the mail 48 days after the infraction. On the NOL it even states that the date of notice was 45 days after the violation (mailed). I guess it is a double standard for timely action when it comes to Nassau County. By the way, I also heard that in order to appeal any case, it will cost you a 10 dollar non-refundable fee to NYS to file and also another 50 dollars for the transcript of the hearing plus your time and energy. So if you lose your appeal, you will have spent a total of 210 dollars in Nassau County

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      January 24, 2018 8:08 am

      Larry A,

      Most motorists do not appeal a red light camera conviction. The appellate fees and rules are certainly a factor.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I can not condone that New York City and Nassau and Suffolk County have done something like sending people like my self a ticket for speeding with a camera posted on the top of pole or in some cases in New York city on a car and they don’t provide certificate of affirmation proving that the cameras are working properly and have been tested daily or weekly.

    Reply
  • How is it possible, other than extortion, to charge motorists triple what the red light fine is as they do in Nassau County now? A $50 ticket with fees is now $150. Is there any recourse for this, other than not blowing a red light?

    Reply
  • How long do you have to appeal ? In NYS it must be at least 1 year. If one of these certificates was not properly exicuted with regards to the requiored affirmation via a notory public or other “orthorized individual ” than it would stand to reason that non of these certificates have been properly, and/or legally exicuted. Go class action, soliciting all those convicted and appeal them all….$$$$

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      October 13, 2017 8:37 am

      Bill Nesbitt,

      Generally, you have 30 to 35 days to initiate the process to appeal in New York State.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I recently received a red light camera ticket in the mail from Nassau County. The road I was traveling on has 4 lanes moving north bound and 4 additional lanes moving south bound. I was traveling south bound around 2:00AM, where the 4 lanes are divided the following way; 1 turning lane right (east bound), 1 turning lane left (west bound), and 2 remainder lanes moving south bound. Within sight were 4 steady green lights as I was approaching the intersection to make a left turn (left turn signal was on) . As I slowed down, the 2 green lights closer to the left turned yellow (keep in mind that the remainder 2 south bound lights are still a stead green) and it was already too late for me to make a full stop, so I pressed my brakes as soon as the lights turned red (video shows brake lights are enabled) and continued to make the left turn. I didn’t know the yellow lights were turn signal for the left lane and was focused more on the green traffic lights.

    If I would had complete a hard brake, I would end up in middle of the north bound lane which is a danger to all bounds of the intersection and could have led to a collision. So I had to act quick when I saw the red light and speed up to make the turn.

    Do you think I could use the “Debbie Eisenstadt” defense?

    Thank You.

    Reply
  • Hello Attorney Weiss,

    I got a school zone camera ticket in brooklyn on 8/10. I called up the school and they said that the school was open but no students were in attendance that day. That was the extent they were willing to help me. I could not get a written confirmation of that from them. Do I need to get that to prove it to the court or I can just write that I spoke with them at this time and that’s what they said. Also I read on the nyc.gov website that camera in school zones can operate from an hour before the school day to an hour after it. My ticket was not within the times the camera should be operating. I tried to log into the website where they post the camera log and technician certification but the files won’t open. I tried on multiple computer and networks and was unable to. Is there a argument that I can use for not getting the camera log and certification?

    Reply
    • Jay,

      You are not entitled to any discovery for such cases. You can make a Freedom of Information Act request but usually that takes more time than you have.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I received a red light ticket while driving for work. I was in an area I did not know, slowed to make the right on red turn, but did not make a complete stop. Is there any way I can ration with the court considering that I did not know the area?

    Reply
    • SW,

      Beng unfamiliar with an area is not a valid defense to a red light camera ticket (or a traffic ticket either).

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I submitted defenses and pleaded ‘not guilty’ to an alleged NOL for ‘speeding’ (36 mph on a 6-lane roadway) in a school zone (25 mph). DOF explicitly acknowledged receiving my defenses, but more than 600 days have passed without a hearing or a decision. (The DOF website continues to display ‘hearing pending.’) Would a claim of a due process violation get the whole thing thrown out? To which court or authority should I claim such a due process violation?

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      August 31, 2017 11:39 pm

      Ed R,

      I doubt that you’ll be successful with such a claim despite the ridiculously long delay.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • This is a strange situation but I need help with this red light ticket. We rented a car in New York City to drive to New Jersey. The rental agency just contacted us, 3 months later, stating that we got a red light ticket within 10 minutes of renting the car. They said NYC sent us a ticket to out of state address but we never received anything. Furthermore, the rental company sent us a copy of the ticket with no photo evidence. I went on the NYC website and they don’t have photo evidence either. No evidence we were even driving.
    Do I even bother paying this? What are the ramifications?

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      July 19, 2017 11:13 pm

      Lynn,

      For a red light camera ticket, the court does not need evidence that you were driving. Further, from what you write, I believe you should pay this ticket.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I made a right into a parking lot, that was at the intersection where a camera light was. Is this illegal?

    Reply
  • I received a ticket for making a right turn on red ..Shouldn’t there be a sign stating must come to a complete stop before turning on red?

    Reply
  • I received a red light ticket taken by the camera……. the time on the video is in military time as where the time on the notice says civilian time…….. is this a discrepancy??….

    Can I dispute this ticket?

    Reply
  • Is there a point to try to fight theses camera tickets? the judges are certainly not there to protect my rights. The city contracts a 3rd party company to provide evidence and generate revenue. Does the city need to prove that these measures are actually addressing safety issues and are successful at it? I know there was a class action suit in 2012 that was dismissed by the court. Can this be done again and on what grounds? Are these cameras violating any of our rights? Very frustrated in the tri state area.

    Reply
  • When I sent in my ticket I requested camera maintenance records , which I did not receive, are they required to comply ? Is that a valid defence. Should I just pay?

    Reply
  • hi,

    I wrote a comment or asked a question about the red light camera appeal, you mentioned in this posting. I see it was deleted….was that a bad question or comment that I asked??

    Reply
    • crl,

      I believe you submitted the same comment twice. I responded to one of them stating “Debbie’s defense seems to be a good one for others to raise. In regard to the out-of-state administrator of the program, I do not see any viable arguments from this fact to beat a camera ticket.” If I am mistaken, please re-post your question, and I will reply.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Mr. Weiss,

    Isn’t “Debbie’s” appeal a defense for all red light cameras, at least in Nassau County. If the technicians certificate or the documents that they produce to allegedly show that you went through a red light, isn’t notarized….shouldn’t it be dismissed. I found that case while i was searching for something else and came across your posting. Perhaps I’m reading it wrong, but i thought that that case was a HUGE! and would relieve some of the red light camera tickets everywhere. And I don’t think any of the red light camera tickets/certificates are notarized. Also, I found out that the servicer for all the Nassau County red light camera tickets are located in Arizona!! How can they administer these tickets from across the country?? Those cameras flash all the time, even when the light is green…there are so many malfunctions…

    Reply
    • crl,

      Debbie’s defense seems to be a good one for others to raise. In regard to the out-of-state administrator of the program, I do not see any viable arguments from this fact to beat a camera ticket.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I received a red light ticket making a stop and then a right on red into a shopping mall parking lot. There wasn’t a “No Right on Red” sign at all. I don’t understand this. Not sure if or how I can fight this.

    Reply
    • Susan,

      You likely failed to complete to a complete stop BEFORE making your right on red. You can watch the video by going to the administer of the Red Light Program’s website.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I got a red light camera ticket and I wasn’t even driving… I was at work…but in Suffolk county the registrant is responsible. The person driving did make a right turn on red in a spot where it’s legal but the video shows he didn’t make a stop just slowed for the turn. Although yes he was in violation I find these camera’s unfair and unconstitutional so of course I want to fight it regardless. I had my court date today I told the judge I felt the image was too fuzzy and that you could not tell whether one letter was an F or an E (it was). He said the techs statement said that its my car so it is. He said I had no argument and found me guilty. I would like to appeal this but don’t know how to go about proving my case that it’s unconstitutional. Do I even have a case because from my research it seems we have the harshest laws when it comes to this since they don’t even have to prove whether or not it was you.

    Reply
    • Christy,

      I don’t think you have a case based on the way this law is set up (ie, treating such tickets as parking tickets without any impact on a person’s driving license).

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Eugene Falik
    May 20, 2015 10:21 am

    Of course, another problem with red light cameras, and even police is that they lack judgement. New York, has enacted (Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1680) the U.S. Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD requires sound engineering judgement for placement and operation of traffic control devices. The established law is that a light must be yellow for 3.2 seconds at an approach speed of 30 mph on a straight, level road and longer on downhill approaches to traffic lights or higher speeds.

    The problem, particularly in Nassau County’s Traffic and Parking Violations Agency, is that the entire operation is crooked and decisions are not made based on the law.

    Reply

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