Parking ticket by mail? NJ lawmaker fights ‘smart’ meters
New Jersey law requires that a parking ticket be issued by a human being on a driver's windshield.
And after learning the results of a pilot program that allowed "smart" parking meters to issue violations by mail, a New Jersey legislator wants to ensure current law does not change.
Approved by the courts in late 2014 and eventually put into motion in December 2016, Palisades Park installed several meters that — beyond featuring touch screens and displaying digital advertisements to the public — could issue electronic tickets to vehicle owners, similar to the now defunct red light cameras.
The pilot program came to end at the start of September 2017.
According to the office of Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Morris, chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, the number of parking tickets in the Bergen County borough increased 51 percent from the year prior. The 20 smart meters — which represented nearly 9 percent of Palisades Park meters — issued 23 percent of all violations.
Over the pilot program run, the newer meters averaged about 125 violations each, compared to an average of 40 tickets among non-program meters.
"There are many, many municipalities that continue to look to municipal fines as ways to supplement the budget," McKeon said. "Understanding we're all looking for sources of revenue, at the end of the day, the source of the revenue really just becomes the taxpayer."
McKeon noted several New Jersey towns have been pressing the courts to expand the pilot elsewhere.
So he has legislation on the books that would block this from happening. The only way a digital meter or other electronic parking device could issue a ticket on its own, under McKeon's bill, is if the current law changes. Meters would still be permitted to alert law enforcement of a parking violation.
"To me, the data is overwhelming — we don't really need to allow this to go forward on a statewide basis," McKeon said. "It would mean hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in fines — and who's paying them after all?"
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