If you have received a notice in the mail that vaguely looks like a traffic ticket and orders you to visit www.violationinfo.com and pay a fine, you are not alone. In 2012, Cobb County voted to allow a private Arizona company to install hundreds of cameras on school buses and to issue these civil citations to people accused of violating the school bus "Stop" sign. (Passing a school bus with the "Stop" sign activated.) This company quickly got underway and now the citations are pouring in as people are getting blindsided with these notices a week or more later that claim they did something wrong and should pay money to Ohio because a company in Arizona says the drivers did something wrong in Georgia.
The good news is that these cause no points to be added to your license and no information to be reported to your insurance.
What you should have received in the mail is the following:
- A citation for the alleged violation, which shall include the date and time of the violation, the location of the infraction, the amount of the civil monetary penalty imposed, and the date by which the civil monetary penalty shall be paid;
- An image taken from the recorded image showing the vehicle involved in the infraction;
- A copy of a certificate sworn to or affirmed by a certified peace officer employed by a law enforcement agency authorized to enforce this Code section and stating that, based upon inspection of recorded images, the owner's motor vehicle was operated in disregard or disobedience of subsection (a) of this Code section and that such disregard or disobedience was not otherwise authorized by law;
- A statement of the inference provided by subparagraph (D) of this paragraph and of the means specified therein by which such inference may be rebutted;
- Information advising the owner of the motor vehicle of the manner and time in which liability as alleged in the citation may be contested in court; and
- A warning that failure to pay the civil monetary penalty or to contest liability in a timely manner shall waive any right to contest liability and result in a civil monetary penalty;
If you did not receive all of these things, you have not been properly served as required by law.
- Assuming you are properly served, what next? If you don't pay, they will just send you another notice by certified mail. If you don't pay after that second notice, you are deemed to have waived your right to contest that you owe the fine.
- But then what? The law is not very clear what happens afterward. There does not appear to be any provisions as with normal traffic tickets to suspend your driver's license or vehicle registration pending payment of the "fine." (And since when did private companies get the right to "fine" anyone?)
Lack of a Uniform Traffic Citation (UTC)
- Georgia Department of Driver Safety regulation 375-3-4 requires that "Uniform Traffic Citation, Summons, and Accusation, shall be used by all law enforcement officers who are empowered to enforce the traffic laws and ordinances in effect in this State." The form looks like this. What comes in the mail from ViolationInfo doesn't look anything like that because it is not a UTC and does not come from a law enforcement officer or agency. Rather, it comes from a private company.
The "Affidavit of Non-Responsibility"
- ViolationInfo.com provides an "Affidavit of Non-Responsibility" that automobile owners can complete and send in to contest their ticket. I advise against doing this until you speak with an attorney. By completing that document, not only does the driver acknowledge service of the notice, but also acknowledges ownership of the vehicle. Those are items the government (or civil plaintiff) would otherwise have to prove in court. So wait and speak with an attorney before responding to anyone in any way.
- Call us. We may be able to help you and save you some money at the same time.
- Columbus, GA, uses this company as well.
- Carroll County, Georgia, uses this company as well. More.
- Athens-Clarke County, Georgia has adopted the system. http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2014-08-09/school-bus-cameras-remain-place-catch-driving-violations
- Looks like Newton, GA, wants a piece of the pie as well. http://www.newtoncitizen.com/news/2014/aug/05/newton-school-buses-equipped-to-track-illegal/
- Clayton County has joined. http://www.news-daily.com/news/2014/aug/07/officials-renew-focus-on-pupil-transportation/
- Gwinnett County has gotten on the bandwagon, but they don't use the Arizona company, it seems. They have a different system but I suspect some of the same problems as other counties. It's lucrative, to the tune of over $3 million in just half a school year, and more cameras are planned. http://www.cbs46.com/story/29233545/more-than-12000-cited-for-ignoring-stop-signs-on-school-buses#.VXAvmiaeoAg.mailto
- It looks like Fulton County has joined the program now.
Cobb School Board OK's Bus Camera Plan - July 23, 2012
School Bus Cameras Catch Drivers - August 2012
This is odd: http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/23049183/cobb-schools-camera Those numbers in the article (900/day, or about 1/bus/day) are completely at odds with the 100-bus pilot program which found only 871 violations over the life of the pilot program. The pilot program should have generated 100+ per day. Was the pilot "program" only a week long?
Atlanta City Schools already did. http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/atlanta-schools-installing-school-bus-stop-arm-cam/nm6Pt/