Court flooded by people challenging 12K speed camera tickets
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — New cameras set up to capture drivers speeding near schools produced more than 12,000 tickets in 33 days, prompting hundreds of potential violators to show up for a Rhode Island traffic court Monday to challenge their tickets.
WPRI-TV reported more than 2,600 tickets were on the docket at Providence Municipal Court, which most days has about 300. The courtroom holds 90 people.
A court spokesperson said not everyone was expected to show up, although hundreds of people did. They filled the waiting areas outside the courtroom at the Providence Public Safety Complex and snaked out the door and around the building Monday morning to get into court.
Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio, who presided over a morning session, dismissed dozens of the tickets Monday, saying the initial batch of violation notices mailed out in January were “inadequate” because they didn’t properly identify the speed limit in school zones, according to WPRI.
On some tickets, the typeface was “so small that literally, you could not read that print without a magnifying glass,” Caprio told the station.
Caprio is well known from videos filmed in his courtroom. He presides with a folksy humor as people dispute their tickets for red-light running and expired parking meters. Clips from the local show “Caught in Providence” have had more than 1 billion views on social media. The show will begin airing in major media markets this year.
The errors with the speeding tickets included different notices with conflicting information, such as one notice saying the posted speed limit was 30 mph and another saying it was 20 mph.
“The city has to get it right the first time,” Caprio said.
WPRI-TV reported last week that the city issued 12,193 tickets between Jan. 16 and Feb. 22 from five new speed cameras. The tickets cost $95 each and can be issued when a vehicle is caught traveling at least 11 mph over the posted speed limit at certain times.
State Rep. Anthony Giarrusso introduced a bill last week that would end the use of traffic cameras in Rhode Island. It’s unclear whether Giarrusso, a Republican, will have any success in the Democratic-controlled legislature. In a statement Monday, he said the camera systems are “nothing more than a government cash grab.”