Assembly Panel Advances McKeon Bill Barring Electronic Meters from Invading Privacy, Issuing a Surge in Parking Tickets

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon to bar the use of electronic parking meters to issue tickets via mail in order to prevent a surge in tickets, surcharges, warrants and license suspensions.

The bill was inspired by a pilot program that the courts approved in Palisades Park, which permits digital parking meters to issue electronic tickets to vehicles owners in the mail, similar to red light cameras. Since the pilot took effect, parking tickets in the town have increased threefold. As a result, several mostly larger towns have been pressing the courts to expand the pilot to other municipalities.

“There are legitimate concerns that broadening this program could cause the number of parking tickets to explode, which would then cause a commensurate rise in the number of license suspensions, warrants for failure to pay, and so on,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “Furthermore, outside the pilot program, current law requires a parking ticket to be served by placing it on a vehicle’s windshield to ensure the legitimate operator of the vehicle does in fact receive it. Taking all of these concerns together, the wise move is to prevent electronic parking meters from causing havoc for commuters and the court system.”

McKeon’s bill (A-5288) would authorize state and local government entities or parking authorities to use a digital parking meter or other electronic parking compliance device to monitor parking compliance within its jurisdiction and may be used to alert law enforcement or parking code compliance officers of a parking violation.

However, a complaint-summons issued by an officer for a parking violation based on an alert is to comply with the provisions of “The Parking Offenses Adjudication Act,” meaning a digital parking meter or other electronic parking compliance device could not be used to electronically process, issue, or serve a complaint-summons for a parking violation or interconnect with any state or local court automated system to process, issue, or serve a complaint-summons for a parking violation.

Additionally, the bill would prohibit a digital parking meter or other electronic parking compliance device from being installed or engineered for the sole purpose of taking a photograph or video of a vehicle occupant.

The bill also ensures that apps that notify users of empty parking spaces are not impacted by these changes.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, chaired by McKeon, and would go into effect immediately upon enactment.