Sheriff Rob Maciol joined Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. As he announced a local law to establish a program that will catch and punish drivers who pass stopped school buses through the use of cameras.
“Oneida County is committed to protecting the safety of our children through all available means,” Picente said. “That drivers continue to endanger the lives of students by ignoring the stop signs and lights of school buses is inexcusable. I encourage all of our school districts to participate in the program this new local law will establish so that we can ensure these deeds never go unpunished.”
New York State passed a law in September that authorized municipalities across the state to pass local laws creating programs to catch people passing school busses via the use of stop-arm cameras.
Picente tasked the county Attorney’s Office with drafting a local law to develop a program in which interested school districts can enter into an agreement with the county to participate in. The county will hire a company that will install the cameras and recording equipment on buses at no cost to the participating school districts. There will likely be no up-front cost to the county, as it is anticipated the vendor will install and operate the system in exchange for a percentage of the fines and penalties collected.
The cameras will only activate if a violation is detected by motion sensors or similar technology. The images and data captured by the cameras will be downloaded by the company and reviewed by a sworn member of the Sheriff’s Office and won’t be allowed to be accessed by the school districts. A technician, acting on behalf of the county, will then send the owner of the offending vehicle a citation that will be the equivalent of a parking ticket.
The fine for a first offense is $250, a second offense occurring within 18 months is $275 and a third or subsequent violation is $300. There are no points or license suspensions associated with the violations. A $25 penalty will be assessed for failing to respond within a determinate period of time, which could ultimately affect the offending vehicle’s re-registration. Failure to respond at all can result in the citation being sent to local criminal court or traffic violation bureau.
The vehicle owner cannot be issued a citation if the driver was stopped and given a traffic ticket for the same offense and there are provisions in the law to protect owners of rental or leased vehicles, as well as a provision allowing the owner of a vehicle driven by someone else to recover the fine.
The law will be voted on by the county Board of Legislators on Feb. 12. Once the law is passed, the county will issue an RFP for a vendor to implement the program.