Buffalo’s parking attendants slap tickets on cars that sit curbside just minutes longer than they should, setting off a flow of money from the wallets of unhappy motorists to a city bureaucracy that needs the cash.
Will police now show the same zeal in writing traffic tickets?
Starting Wednesday, the city will be able to handle the 40,000 traffic tickets written within its borders each year and keep more of the revenue from traffic fines.
The city never did get its red-light cameras and the money they were expected to deliver to city coffers. But the state Legislature and Buffalo Common Council have let Mayor Byron W. Brown create the “Buffalo Traffic Violations Agency” to take control of traffic tickets and the resulting fortune.
Buffalo’s budget-makers foresee benefits of more than $2 million a year.
Come 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, administrative law judges working out of City Hall Room 115 will be able to hear cases that previously had been heard at a state Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Ellicott Square.
City officials say the administrative law judges will have the same discretion given town and village judges, who accept pleas that let drivers protect points on their licenses and limit increases in their insurance premiums. The city also plans to expand payment options.
Brown has long sought the change, and his team describes it as a big win. The new office will consist of an executive director, a traffic prosecutor, three or four clerks, their supervisor, and a number of judges. Some current DMV workers will shift to the city’s employ.
State DMV Commissioner Neal Schoen expects an efficient handoff.
“We have been working with the City of Buffalo and respective state-employee unions for a number of months to make this transition as seamless as possible,” Schoen said in a news release.
Anyone ticketed before Wednesday – July 1 – can still answer the ticket with the DMV – before Wednesday. After that, unanswered tickets will shift to City Hall’s new office. So will responsibility for all tickets issued before Wednesday that have not been fully adjudicated.
Anyone with a currently suspended license will still have to pay their fee to the DMV to lift the suspension. The DMV provides more information about the transition and specific situations that might arise on its website.
The DMV will continue to do business in the Ellicott Square office. It will conduct safety hearings, which include hearings over chemical-test refusals, hearings involving regulated businesses and hearings related to fatal crashes.