Wilmington to refund over $800,000; suspends Right-Turn-on-Red Camera Safety Program

- Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki announced today that the City’s Right-Turn-on-Red Camera Safety Program has been suspended indefinitely.

The Mayor said the city will begin next week to refund over $800,000 in fines to the owners of more than 6,700 vehicles who received and paid one or more citations between July 1, 2016 and January 11, 2017. The Mayor said the city is also notifying, beginning this week, another 2,500 vehicle owners to inform them that the citation their vehicle received during that period has been voided, and they do not need to pay their fine.

City Finance Director Patrick Carter said the City has already identified all of the vehicles that were cited during the period in question, so there is no reason for citizens to call the City about the refund. The owners of all affected vehicles will be notified by mail.

Mayor Purzycki said the reason he suspended the Right-Turn-on-Red Camera Safety Program effective January 11 and has now ordered that refunds be issued stems from action taken last summer by the Delaware General Assembly. He said in the closing days of the session, epilogue language was added to the State’s Bond Bill providing that jurisdictions operating  camera safety programs such as Wilmington’s could only issue right turn on red violations if there is safety and crash data to support it as determined by the state’s Department of Transportation.

Mayor Purzycki said when he learned in early January that the General Assembly had added specific language that directly impacted the City’s program, he immediately directed that the issuance of citations be suspended as of January 11. He said the City’s Finance Department then began the process of identifying the more than 9,300 vehicles that had been cited during those six months or so, and determining which of them had paid their fines and which had not.

Regardless of the intent behind the new law, the language enacted by the General Assembly raises substantial questions regarding the enforceability of Wilmington’s camera based right turn on red program.  “We chose the prudent and fair approach of suspending enforcement until the statute is clarified,” said the Mayor.

The Mayor cited the loss of the revenue from the program as a factor in the City’s current and extended budget deficit woes that caused him last week to recommend the elimination of 29 government positions as well as a property tax increase.

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