Leaseholders say they can’t fight school bus camera tickets or view evidence against them

PITTSBURGH — There is new fallout in 11 Investigates reporting on the tickets people in Pittsburgh are getting for allegedly passing a stopped school bus.

A number of people who lease their cars have reached out to 11 Investigates, saying they weren’t notified of their ticket, or given an option to fight it; instead, their lender paid the ticket and charged them an additional $320 to $330 on top of their monthly car payment to recoup money from the fine.

Nicole Brown is one of the people who reached out to 11 Investigates to get to the bottom of it.

“I feel like my rights were violated,” Brown told 11 Investigates. “I was pretty much told I was guilty without even knowing about what occurred.”

Nicole Brown says she checked her statement before paying her car lease, only to find an extra $330 charge. At first, she believed it was a mistake. But, after waiting on hold and a lot of back and forth, the lender who she leases through, told her it was for passing a stopped school bus on Brighton Road.

“I was distraught,” Brown said. “I was really shocked. As soon as they said it has to do with a school bus, I said ‘ugh they got me.’”

Brown says the citation was never mailed to her. Instead, the lender paid the fine, then charged her for the violation. When she called to view the pictures and videos and fight the citation, she was told because the ticket was paid, the case was closed and the evidence was gone.

“I kept saying to them, why would you pay the ticket?” Brown said. “I never received this. I would have wanted to fight this. They just kept saying you don’t own the car.”

When the citation was mailed to Brown, it was six months later!

The state law is clear - the owner of the car that passes the stopped school bus is who gets the ticket, and “the lessee of a leased vehicle shall be considered the owner of a motor vehicle.”

Brown says that’s not what happened and about half a dozen Channel 11 viewers who lease, tell us they’re in the same boat. They got no notification, just a surprise $320 to $330 dollar charge added to their monthly car payment bill.

“I wanted to have the option to fight the ticket,” Brown said. “I wanted to be able to speak on my behalf. They took that away from me.”

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