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City of Buffalo issuing refunds to drivers for school zone tickets erroneously issued

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Posted at 2:41 PM, Dec 07, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The City of Buffalo is refunding or canceling tickets for 20,000 drivers who were ticketed incorrectly in its School Zone Safety Program.

This comes days after the enabling legislation for the program was uncovered and revealed tickets must be issued to drivers within 14 business days of the alleged infraction.

For many people receiving fines, the tickets came weeks, if not months after they were caught on camera.

Buffalo mayor Byron Brown is blaming his camera vendor for the error saying via a statement, in part, “My Administration has spoken with the vendor at their highest level to express our disappointment and is committed to holding Sensys Gatso accountable for this situation while ensuring that an error like this does not occur again.”

Any driver who paid a fine already will be receiving a full refund.

Drivers who have not paid their fines will have it dismissed.

The mayor is asking complainants to call 311.

The Mayor’s full statement reads:

The City of Buffalo is aware that our School Zone Safety program vendor, Sensys Gatso, experienced a delay in the mailing of thousands of citations due to a combination of severe weather, pandemic related delays, and difficulties the United States Postal Service has experienced. As a result of these circumstances, individuals who received a citation that is postmarked more than 14 business days past the date of citation issuance will have their fines dismissed while those who have already paid their fine will receive a complete refund. My Administration has spoken with the vendor at their highest level to express our disappointment and is committed to holding Sensys Gatso accountable for this situation while ensuring that an error like this does not occur again. I am committed to administering this program efficiently for the protection of our students, teachers, school staff, and pedestrians whose safety remains our top priority. If people have any questions or concerns regarding a citation they have received they should call 311.

The vendor responded to the concerns today, releasing a statement of its own that says a local center will be set up to help process citations faster as well as a local call center to respond in a more organized manner to complainants.

In the past three weeks, approximately 20,000 motorists received citations for speeding in school zones after the statutory mailing date, rendering the alleged offenses invalid. Notifications have already started going out to all motorists affected that their citations will be voided and for any fines already paid, refunds including any credit card convenience fee, if applicable, are forthcoming. Sensys Gatso remains committed to the City of Buffalo and their goal of reducing speeding in local school zones for the safety of the community at large.
To answer the question as to why these untimely citations were delivered: The mail delivery of these citations was delayed due to a severe ice storm in the Midwest the week of October 26th, affecting both our fulfillment processing center and the United States Postal Service.
As a result of this issue, the City and Sensys Gatso have agreed that a local fulfillment center be used to process the citations as soon as possible. In addition, plans for a local call center will be developed in partnership with the City of Buffalo’s Economic Development Division. This plan will not only create local jobs but help to ensure that motorists receive their violations in a more timely manner. This investment in the City of Buffalo’s School Zone Safety Program further demonstrates Sensys Gatso’s commitment to the partnership with the City.
It is important to note that all of these infractions were accurately recorded and reported. The violations recorded acts of unlawful speeding from 11 miles per hour to as much as 25 miles over the posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour. At 25 miles per hour over the speed limit, there is only a 10% chance of a child surviving being hit by the speeding vehicle.