MANHATTAN (CN) – Bicyclists’ uneasy relations with New York took a turn into Federal Court this week, where a class action claims the DMV “systematically overcharged” cyclists by $88 for traffic tickets, and assessed them penalty points on their driver’s licenses, in defiance of law.
Randy Cohen and five other named plaintiffs sued the state and four top DMV officials on Tuesday. Plaintiff Dan Kohn, a 41-year-old chief technology officer for a tech start-up living in Battery Park City, was pulled over in July for failure to yield to a pedestrian. An avid biker and occasional driver, Kohn said in a telephone interview that finding out that a cycling violation could affect his car insurance “surprised” him. “It seems kind of ridiculous,” he said. Kohn recalled looking at the back of the ticket, which said that the surcharge was mandatory.
Only later did Kohn’s attorney tell him that New York traffic law exempts cyclists from surcharges and license points.
“To find out that mandatory doesn’t mean mandatory is very confusing,” he said. His attorney, Steve Vaccaro with Vaccaro and White, told Courthouse News that he got the DMV’s counsel Ida Traschen, a defendant, to admit in writing that his reading of the law was “correct.”
Kohn added: “I think it’s a shame that it takes a lawsuit to get a state agency to follow the law.” New York State’s press office did not respond to a request for comment. The cyclists seek class certification, an injunction, refunds and damages for deprivation of property without due process.
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