The amount of New York state traffic tickets issued by University Police on the Oswego State campus increased by 153 percent between 2006 and 2009. 288 tickets were issued in 2006 and 730 in 2009, according to U.P. annual reports. Between 2008 and 2009, the campus experienced an increase of 223 tickets issued.
The increase is due in large part to U.P.’s commitment to protecting the safety of Oswego County, Cynthia Adam, University Police Chief, said. Specifically, U.P. has recently obtained grants from New York state for dedicated patrol services, which puts officers on patrol to do specific targeted enforcement to enhance the safety of Oswego County, Adam said. For example, the "Click It or Ticket" statewide campaign asks officers to keep lookout for drivers operating their vehicles without a seatbelt. Also, the "Cell Phone in One Hand, Ticket in Another" initiative asks U.P. to scope out people using their cell phones while driving.
"We see an increase in texting while driving, driving without seatbelts, and other common violations of the law," Adam said. These programs are intended to both penalize offenders and to raise awareness about the danger and consequences of these offenses.
Furthermore, Adam said that U.P., along with all police agencies in New York state, have plate readers in some of their vehicles. These devices scan the license plates of passing cars in oncoming traffic, detecting those that are in violation of the law according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. According to the police blotter, in the month of September, eight arrests were made for the offense of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle—which were made with the help of plate readers.
"Police technology has dramatically increased the enforcement when people are driving illegally," Adam said. "If something is wrong with your car, or you haven’t gotten your license updated or insurance renewed, don’t drive."
Typically, the most tickets are given out in the beginning of the fall semester because new students are just beginning to realize the importance of obeying the speed limit signs as well as parking regulations, Adam said.
"We have a very rigid speed limit to ensure the safety of pedestrians and to decrease the likelihood of accidents," she said. According to the 2009 annual U.P. report, the majority of tickets issued on campus were for speeding, with an average violator speed of 37 mph, 17 miles over the posted speed limit on campus.
Other arrests and citations are for cell phone use, lack of seatbelt use and D.W.I.’s, Adam said. Reportedly, anywhere from a couple dozen to 40 D.W.I. arrests are made per year.
"The threshold of drinking has been significantly reduced in New York state," Adam said. A blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater is grounds for arrest.
Out of the 730 tickets issued in Oswego in 2009, 573 convictions were made. There are a variety of reasons for this, Adam said, but all are related to the determination made by the judge. Many tickets end in plea bargains and some are voided, she said. There is also the possibility that tickets given out are for minor violations and act as a warning of an offense to be corrected, such as a dead headlight bulb. The ratio of convictions to issued tickets is actually a normal rate ratio, she said.
Adam said in order to decrease the amount of tickets issued each year, student compliance with the laws of New York is imperative.