PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – If you received a ticket from one of Providence’s speed cameras on or before April 15, you are probably eligible for a refund or a reduced fine.
The city confirmed Monday it will grant a “partial refund” to individuals who have already paid their $95 speeding fines or will reduce the amount owed by people who haven’t paid their tickets. But officials declined to offer more details until a federal judge approves a settlement to a class-action lawsuit filed against the city in March.
It’s unclear exactly how many individuals will receive a refund or a fine reduction, but the city issued more than 20,000 speeding tickets before April 15, which is the date it made changes to the violation notices to include the state’s speeding law.
The city did not say how much each individual will be reimbursed or reveal the cost of the reduced fine.
“The full terms of the settlement will be described in detail in the settlement agreement and the class notice that must be approved by the court before the settlement is implemented,” the city and attorneys representing the plaintiffs said in a joint statement.
The full settlement could be made available later this week. The City Council Claims Committee is typically required to approve settlements involving taxpayer dollars, but the Elorza administration has refused to answer questions about the process for approving the speed camera agreement.
The lawsuit was initially filed in Superior Court by six Rhode Island residents and a car leasing company in March, but it was transferred to federal court a week later. The two sides were in mediation with former Superior Court Judge Mark Pfeiffer over the last month.
The lawsuit argued the city has made numerous mistakes in implementing the program and issuing the $95 violations, while also questioning whether Providence Municipal Court is the proper jurisdiction to adjudicate the alleged violations. The suit accused the city of failing to reference the state’s speeding law on tickets while also inaccurately including language suggesting violations would have no effect on a person’s insurance.
Under the settlement, all individuals who received speeding tickets on or before April 15 will be allowed to re-challenge their violations in Municipal Court; if they have already paid a ticket, they will be eligible for a “partial refund.” Those who haven’t yet paid their fines will have the chance to challenge their tickets in court; if they are unsuccessful, they will pay a reduced fine.
The city launched its speed camera program in January, issuing violation notices to any vehicle caught traveling at least 11 miles per hour over the posted speed limit between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The cameras are currently operating in 10 locations throughout the city.
Records provided by the city show 28,648 tickets were issued between Jan. 16 and April 30, although dozens of the initial violations were dismissed after a Municipal Court judge found several errors. The city has postponed trials for individuals challenging their tickets over the last two months.
The settlement comes as the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill that would require a warning to be issued on an individual’s first speed camera violation, followed by a $50 fine on the second violation and a $95 fine on all subsequent violations.