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Drivers file class action lawsuit against Town of Hempstead over school bus safety camera tickets

Drivers sue Long Island town over school bus camera violations
Drivers sue Long Island town over school bus camera violations 02:22

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Some Long Island drivers are challenging the school bus camera safety program in court. 

They launched a class action lawsuit demanding all the tickets in the Town of Hempstead be refunded. 

Sergey Kadinsky paid the $250 for allegedly passing a stopped school bus, but he's demanding a refund. The West Hempstead history teacher's name is on the lawsuit against the town challenging the legality of the automated tickets. 

"I'm sure many of us have seen buses stop, pull out the stop sign paddle, but where are the children?" he said. 

Kadinsky's was among the 132,000 violations issued by Hempstead is just over a year. 

State law allows the video-generated tickets to protect children from drivers who wiz by a stopped school bus with a stop sign arm out. But his suit contends the proof is "invalid and legally insufficient," failing to show it's a marked school bus loading or unloading passengers, as required by state law.

"Children can be on the bus, but are they getting on or off the bus? Because that's what the law was designed for," Kadinsky said. 

Nancy Viti is among the other drivers also fighting tickets. The video that nabbed her doesn't appear to show children or school bus markings either.

"I didn't see anybody getting off. I didn't see no lights, I didn't see the stop sign," the Garden City resident said. 

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a victory for a Suffolk County driver whose ticket was thrown out by a state appeals court. The judges found insufficient evidence that the bus was a school bus. 

"Whether someone was getting on or off, if the arm was extended and it said 'stop,' and it's coming from a school bus and you drove passed it, unfortunately, you committed a violation," said Paul Sabatino, former counsel to the Suffolk County legislature.

Sabatino said these challenges could potentially nullify the entire state law, but he believes the video will hold up in court. 

"The law is solid, as long as the video is not defective," he said. 

"It feel like it's more about revenue than safety, because the intended beneficiaries of safety, the children, are not always there when the bus stops," said Kadinsky.

Kadinsky said his goal is not to see the law repealed but fixed to fulfill its safety goals.

BusPatrol, the company that administers the camera program, said in a statement the lawsuit "lacks merit."

"It is unfortunate that an individual who admitted to illegally passing a stopped school bus is taking this approach to skirt accountability. Since New York State enacted this program in 2019, no court or government authority has challenged the validity or necessity of the school bus camera safety program," the statement continued. "Sadly, in the past month, two children have been hit by reckless drivers around their school buses and countless other close calls have happened throughout the state of New York, which is why BusPatrol remains committed to delivering technology that empowers local law enforcement across the country to enforce state safety laws that protect children."

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