CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Fox 8 I-Team has found drivers getting double-billed and hit with bigger fines for speed camera tickets. It was also found that a local town is charging $100 for you to fight one of those tickets.
The I-Team uncovered a push to squeeze even more money out of you with camera tickets, so we investigated.
This comes as some towns have already collected millions of dollars in fines. Nobody likes a ticket from a traffic camera, and now, the I-Team has discovered new outrage.
Harry Donehoo got a ticket from a camera in Peninsula. He told us he couldn’t believe it when he saw he’d have to pay a $100 fine to argue his case before a judge.
Donehoo said, “I think it’s ridiculous. And, I want to know why I have to pay a hundred dollars to go to court. You know, other crimes, you don’t have to pay a hundred dollars to go to court.”
Last year, the I-Team revealed people also had to pay to fight camera tickets from Newburgh Heights. After we investigated, the administrative judge at Garfield Heights Municipal Court put a stop to that.
Now, look at what else that Court found happening to drivers. Judge Deborah Nicastro told the I-Team that she found drivers getting double-billed.
She said the company processing camera tickets for Newburgh Hts. and Walton Hills sent notices demanding payment to 16,000 drivers who’d already paid fines.
Judge Nicastro said, “I was outraged. We weren’t aware this was happening until people started calling the Court. At one point, our whole Clerk’s Office was shut down. Everybody was on the phone.”
The Garfield Hts. Municipal Court made sure anyone paying twice got a refund.
Judge Sergio DiGeronimo said, “I think we can see the third-party vendor that’s involved is acting recklessly.”
Police argue traffic cameras are aimed at slowing people down. Not making money. But, drivers question the impact since no one gets a ticket until weeks after a camera clocks the speeding.
Adding to the cost to you, we’ve found Newburgh Hts. fines have gone up from $150 to, now, $180.
And, the Court says, the number of traffic camera tickets for Newburgh Hts has spiked up. Now, on pace for 70,000 this year. That would be about a 20% increase.
In February, the I-Team told you officials in Peninsula would be starting their photo enforcement program. Drivers started receiving tickets from that program at the end of April.
Harry Donehoo insists he was not speeding, and he hopes he can defend himself in Court without paying a fee.
He said, “I always watch my speed.”
We reached out to the mayors of Peninsula and Newburgh Hts for comment. Additionally, the company processing tickets for Newburgh Hts tied to the double-billing. And, the Judge in Stow Municipal Court handling the Peninsula photo enforcement cases.
We got no response from the mayors, the judge in Stow or the photo ticket company.
However, Peninsula sent an email saying, “The Village of Peninsula does not establish policies and procedures regarding filing fees for the Stow Municipal Court. What we know is that there is a difference between the two types of citations. A traditional citation appealed to the court is a criminal violation. A photo enforcement citation is a civil violation. “
In the meantime, the Garfield Hts. Court sent the Village of Newburgh Hts. a bill. A charge of more than $11,000 to cover the cost of sorting out the ticket double-billing.