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Nassau Residents Complain About School-Zone Speeding Tickets In Summer

BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Thousands of Long Island drivers have received an unwanted surprise in the mail: tickets issued for speeding through school zones.

As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, the pilot speed-camera program is generating a lot of complaints from motorists, who say they had no idea school speed zones are in effect in the summer.

Randy Prankle said he always slows down in school zones when school is in session. He received four tickets in the mail for school-zone speeding.

"It blew me away," he said. "First of all, school is not in session."

He thought school was out in August. Plainedge Middle School appeared deserted, he said, and he drove 36 mph in a 40 mph zone, never guessing the school zone's 25 mph limit is in effect.

"But summer school is not posted or advertised anywhere as to be in session," said Prankle, who is fighting his tickets in court. "It's not on any of the school calendars."

Doreen Delach received 11 tickets costing $80 each in the same week.

"When is school?" she said. "I always think school would be from September through June. I didn't think school was last week."

There have been a chorus of complaints since Nassau County began a school zone ticket blitz.

Fifty-six school zones could have speed cameras up and running in Nassau by the first week of September. Speed cameras are coming to Suffolk County early next year.

The state allows speed cameras to ticket drivers going more than 10 mph over the school speed limit on school days during school hours, plus an hour before and after school and during school activities.

But drivers near Plainedge Middle School say the county is stretching the definition of a school day to rake in money.

According to the Plainedge's schools superintendent, 100 students had been attending summer school. In the future, he promises summer school days will be added to the district calendars.

Christopher Mistron, Nassau's traffic safety coordinator, said the cameras are only in use during the state-mandated times and that drivers must simply slow down in school zones.

"Schools are utilized as community centers whether there's a summer school or not," he said.

"If someone is going to get hit, better it's at a lower speed," said John Marks, director of Nassau's Traffic and Parking Violation Agency.

The county admitted some tickets issued when school was closed will be voided.

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