I read with great interest your editorial supporting “court fees” for some traffic tickets that are dismissed in Suffolk County.
Your suggestion that those fees “make sense” because there was a technical violation of not having a registration or inspection timely done, or a tail light out, makes some sense on its face, but when you look at the history, it makes no sense at all. In fact, it is nothing more than an administrative fee that is being used by the legislatures of both Nassau and Suffolk counties to raise money for county coffers.
There was never an administrative fee until three years agoin Nassau County, whether or not your case was dismissed for administrative reasons. In other words, if you showed up and proved you actually were licensed, insured or your car was registered or repaired, the case was dismissed, and you walked away only having lost some of your time in court.
Then, Nassau County instituted a $15 administrative fee, claiming that it took time and effort to process each ticket. Nobody questioned the fee because it was low. Once the Nassau legislature saw just how much money it could raise through those fees, it doubled them to $30 about a year ago. There was no basis whatsoever to double that fee.
Once Suffolk County saw how much money Nassau County was taking in through its local traffic court, Suffolk stopped using the state traffic administration system and funded its own traffic court, so it could retain the fines and a larger proportion of the other fees.
This is a tax with another name, that’s all.
Ted Robinson, Hempstead
Editor’s note: The writer has worked as a criminal defense lawyer for 40 years in Nassau County.