A New Jersey law requiring police cars to be outfitted with dashboard cameras has been invalidated on the grounds that it would be unconstitutionally expensive for local governments. The dash cam law was first enacted in 2014. It was sponsored by a New Jersey assemblyman who was arrested for a DUI and used evidence from a dashboard camera to successfully defeat the charge. The law required that every new police car used primarily for traffic stops be equipped with a mobile camera system, or that officers wear body cameras. The hope was that recording police activity would curb both police misconduct and false claims of brutality.
The problem with the law was not with the principles behind it, but with the way in which it was funded. To pay for the cameras, the law imposed a $25 surcharge on any individual convicted of driving under the influence. The Mayor of Deptford Township brought a complaint about the law to the Council of Local Mandates, arguing that the profits from this surcharge would be inadequate to cover the cost of the cameras and that the financial burden would instead fall on local governments.
A study by the Office of Legislative Service revealed that revenues from the DUI surcharge would only cover approximately 6% of the costs associated with the dashboard cameras. Cameras cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy and maintain, while Deptford Township issues less than 15 DUI tickets each month; it would take more than 15 years of DUI surcharges to pay for the cameras. The council found the financial burden to be too great and struck down the law. The decision is not subject to appeal.
If you or a loved one has been ticketed or criminally charged for a traffic-related violation, it is advisable that you contact an attorney to handle your case. Adam H. Rosenblum of the Rosenblum Law Firm is a skilled criminal defense and traffic attorney who is experienced in fighting criminal charges and traffic tickets in New York and New Jersey. Email him or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation.