Bill allowing ‘smart meters’ parks on Murphy’s desk

A bill allowing towns to install “smart meters,” which use cameras to monitor parking violations in real time and then issue a ticket, has made its way out of the state Legislature and onto Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

The meters photograph a car’s license plate when time expires and sends the information to local authorities, who then issue a ticket. – AARON HOUSTON

The meters work by snapping a photo of a person’s license plate and car when the allotted time expires, then sending that information to the local police department or parking enforcement agency. Later, the driver receives a parking ticket in the mail for the violation.

Thursday’s measure – Assembly Bill 4135 – lagged in the state Legislature for over a year before the Senate narrowly approved it in a 23-12 vote.

Many towns now use systems that accept credit cards and feature a mobile phone app to pay for or reserve a parking spot. Some meters use a flashing red light to indicate that paid time has expired so parking enforcement agencies know immediately which cars to ticket.

Current law requires the physical presence of an officer at the site of the violation. And with all the above systems, a driver can still get off scot-free if an officer does not actually see the expired meter and write a ticket.

A4135 changes that by authorizing towns to monitor parking meters remotely, rather than by inspecting every occupied space.

Drivers in towns that opt in to the system would get a minimum five-minute grace period after time expires to feed the meter or leave the spot, under the legislation. Otherwise, a photo is taken and a ticket issued.

“Officers shouldn’t be burdened with going back and forth in checking each individual meter,” bill sponsor Assemblyman Bruce Land, D-1st District, said in a February statement. “We are doing a service to our officers by expediting the process of enforcing parking violations.”

Each fine would include a $2 surcharge and the revenue deposited into the newly-created Designated Driver Fund to Prevent Drunk Driving Fatalities.

Daniel J. Munoz
Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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