Gothamist: “Class Action Suit Targets DMV For Fining Cyclists As If They’re Drivers”

Gothamist covers Vaccaro & White’s suit against the Department of Motor Vehicles for excessive penalties against cyclists.

In addition to paying the same hefty fines for traffic violations as motorists, cyclists caught in the NYPD’s “Safe Cycle” crackdown have also been forced to pay a bogus $88 surcharge, plus accept additional points on their license. New York Vehicle and Traffic law explicitly exempts cyclists from this surcharge, but summonses issued to cyclists nevertheless inform them that “included in the total amount for each violation (except equipment) are mandatory surcharges in the amount of $88.” Most cyclists just pay it, but a new lawsuit could result in refunds for those who thought the “mandatory” surcharges were in fact mandatory.

After attorney Steve Vaccaro raised the issue with the DMV, he was told by a DMV lawyer that he was correct—”there are no points assigned for violations committed by bicyclists,” and that the law “exempts bicycle violations from the mandatory surcharge.” The DMV agreed to refund the handful of clients Vaccaro was then representing, and remove the points from their licenses. And yet… the surcharge language remains, and most people who pay their fine online remain oblivious to the DMV’s unorthodox definition of “mandatory.”

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