Traffic tickets forgiven…if you’re a city employee

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The Times-Picayune is reportiung that the City of New Orleans, Louisiana is forgiving over $548,000 in traffic tickets to city employees made as a result of city traffic cameras:

When it comes to paying for tickets generated by New Orleans’ traffic cameras, some of the biggest scofflaws are city employees driving taxpayer-financed vehicles. As of September 2011, at least 400 city vehicles had racked up fines totaling $547,580, according to records provided by City Hall in response to a public-records request.

And five of the 20 vehicles that owe the city the most money for traffic tickets are city vehicles, the records show.

All that is about to change. But not before the slate is wiped clean, said Andy Kopplin, chief administrative officer to Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Kopplin said he doesn’t think it would be fair to try to go after employees who have racked up tickets because the city has not spelled out clear rules thus far.

Previously, the Landrieu administration had highlighted a memo issued Oct. 13, 2010, by Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas. It said NOPD officers — who comprise a large number of the ticket recipients — must pay traffic-camera tickets unless the officer was responding to a call for service.

But because many officers had been operating under informal guidance that such tickets didn’t have to be paid, and because it’s difficult to sort out which tickets were received before the policy was clarified, the city decided to forgive all tickets to date, Kopplin said.

Under the new policies, the only employees who will be allowed to receive waivers for tickets they accrue while driving city cars will be public safety workers, which include police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers. For an employee to receive a waiver, his or her supervisor must sign a form saying that he or she was responding to an emergency.

In all other cases, employees will be responsible for the tickets, Kopplin said. Once a ticket is considered delinquent, meaning payment is 60 days overdue, the employee will have 30 days to pay it. If the employee doesn’t, “disciplinary action will be taken,” according to Kopplin.

“They will be responsible for their actions as drivers,” he said.

Kopplin said city employees who believe they’ve received a ticket unjustly will have the same avenues of appeal as the general public.

If you or anyone you know has received a traffic ticket in the Greater New Orleans Louisaina area, please call Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias at 504-717-2093. Our team of experioenced traffic ticket lawyers will provide you will the help you need to protect your rights.

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By George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile

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