Ever since the NYPD’s Operation Safe Cycle began last week, New York’s cyclists have been faced with a bonafide ticket blitz for infractions such as riding on the sidewalks (the worst!), going the wrong day down a one way street (terrible!), and going through red lights (ehhhh… case by case basis). Now, of course, there’s a huge debate over whether or not it’s entirely fair to be targeting cyclists for these types of offenses, when cyclists usually have to deal with things like police vehicles blocking bike lanes and double-parked cars and jay-walking pedestrians and a whole host of other things. But no matter, because it seems like you’re just going to get ticketed anyway, so the real question is, is it possible to get screwed over even after you’ve been ticketed? Why, yes! Of course it is. This is New York. It’s not a question of if you’re going to get fucked, but how often and how hard.
And, in the case of ticketed cyclists, the answer is several times and very hard! Via Streets Blog NYC, cyclists who have been found guilty of a moving violation and decide to just plead guilty and pay the fine online, have been hit with an additional $88 surcharge as well as racking up points on their driver license. This is happening because the DMV’s online system doesn’t recognize when an offender is a cyclist or a motorist, and so treats them the same way. And in case you’re thinking this is just an innocent mistake on the part of the perpetually computer unsavvy DMV, think again. Lawyer Steve Vaccaro writes on Streets Blog NYC, “this is no simple computer glitch either. Judging from the pre-printed traffic forms supplied by the DMV, you’d think it’s trying deliberately to trick cyclists into overpaying their fines. The form states: “included in the total amount for each violation (except equipment) are mandatory surcharges in the amount of $88. Equipment violations include mandatory surcharges of $58.”
The thing is, though, that in this case, “mandatory” does not mean “mandatory.” (Yes, we’re living in Kafka-esque times.) In fact, these surcharges and the accompanying license points appear to be unlawful, and so if you feel like you paid an unfair fee due to a cycling ticket, get angry! And fight it! It’s the only way this type of bullshit will stop.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen