How to Fight your New York State Traffic Ticket

You may think getting a traffic ticket in New York States is not a big deal. You simply sign the back of the ticket, pay the fine and then it’s done. However, the fine, as well as the guilty plea, is only the beginning of what could be a costly experience. If you received a ticket for a moving violation, such as a failure to obey a traffic signal or speeding, and plead guilty, it is automatically reported to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) where it is added to your driving record.
Each violation you received has a specific “point” value that can stay on your driving record for 18 months. In example, a speeding ticket has a  minimum point value of 3 while more serious speeding tickets can have a maximum point value of 11.
If your driving record reaches 11 or more points, there will be a mandatory 30 day suspension (1st time suspension) of your license unless you request what is called a “license suspension hearing.” At this hearing you have the right to dispute the accuracy of the DMV’s records, but if the records hold true, you are potentially looking at your license being suspended anywhere from 31 days to up to a year.
It should also be stated that if you accumulate more than 6 points in any 18 month period, the DMV can impose a special surcharge of $150/year on you. Also, if you are convicted of speeding 3x in any 18 month period, your license will be suspended for 6 months. If you want to learn more about how many points each violation will get you, click here – New York Traffic Violation Points.
Another headache that can come from a NYS traffic violation conviction are higher auto insurance premiums. All auto insurance companies check your DMV record every time you apply/renew for an auto insurance policy. Having a moving violation on your record can almost guarantee an increase in your insurance rates.
Dependent on how many points you have on your record, your insurance premium can sometimes be twice the amount of your previous rate, potentially causing more financial problems. In some cases, a high amount of points on your driving record may give auto insurance companies a reason to decline your policy or not renew it. If that is the case you will have to get auto insurance through the New York State “assigned risk” pool. These rates tend to be very very high and should be avoided at all costs.

When Should You Retain an Attorney?

Most drivers who are faced with serious moving violations that can jeopardize their driving privileges hire a traffic ticket lawyer to represent them — something that is essential to protecting your rights and obtaining a favorable outcome from the traffic court proceedings.
When you hire a traffic ticket lawyer, often times they can negotiate a reduced charge and in some cases completely eliminate the charges/points on your behalf. For example, in some cases, the ticket issued to you may be flawed. If that is the case, a traffic attorney has the ability to get the charges dismissed based solely on the fact that the officer who issued the ticked made a mistake.
Another benefit to hiring a traffic ticket lawyer is that if you do not reside near the court that the ticket specifies, you can have your attorney make an appearance on your behalf so that you don’t have to show up in traffic court. In other situations, the court appearance may be scheduled during work hours which may be hard for you to get to. If you had a a traffic lawyer you wouldn’t have to miss work! They would go to court for you.

If you are issued a ticket…

Do not delay! Follow the instructions on the traffic ticket for the plea you wish to make.
It is important to answer your NY traffic ticket in the timeframe allowed because your driver’s license will be suspended if you do not. Also, later on, you could be found guilty of the charge because you failed to respond to the ticket. (known as a default conviction) If that happens, your license would be suspended for failure to pay the fine as well as have a judgement entered against you.
If you are driving with a suspended license, it is a crime. A felony conviction could land you fines up to $5,000, jail time, probation or even a confiscation of your vehicle. Remember that as the number of suspensions you have increases, penalties increase too. A driver is suspended for each ticket that was not answered and each fine that was not paid.

To Plead Not Guilty – The first step is to read the “not guilty” instructions on the ticket and check the “not guilty” box on the back of the ticket. Next, make sure to fill out all the required information, sign it, and mail it to the Albany address listed on the ticket within 15 days from the recorded violation date. Once the DMV receives your ticket, they will send you a notice stating when and where you need to go for your hearing.

Hearings are open to the public. You may want to go to any TVB office to watch hearings so you know what to expect.

To Plead Guilty – The first step is to read the “guilty” instructions on the ticket and check the “guilty” box on the back of the ticket. Next, make sure to fill out all the required information, sign it, and mail it, with your payment to the Albany address listed on the ticket within 15 days from the recorded violation date. You may also bring the ticket and payment to your local TVB office. You can pay the fine and surcharge by Visa or Mastercard, or a money order/check made payable to “Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.” Make sure to include the total fines and surcharges listed on the ticket.

NOTE: You may not please guilty by mail if the charge(s) against you will ultimately result in license/registration suspension or revocation upon conviction (such as driving without insurance or a third speeding violation within 18 months). If you do plead guilty by mail to these charges, you will be notified that you must go to a TVB office in person to answer the charges.

The DMV does allow you to postpone or reschedule your hearing to a different date/time. To postpone your hearing the first time, the TVB must receive your request by mail at least 10 days before the date of the hearing. You can also make the request in person at the TVB office or by telephone 1 day before the hearing date. If you need to postpone your hearing a 2nd time, your request must be made in person at the appropriate TVB office at least 1 day before the hearing. If you do postpone for a 2nd time, you must include a “good cause” for why you will not be able to make your hearing — this is subject to approval by the TVB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)

In order to postpone your hearing for a ticket issued within New York City, you must mail your request to the Albany address on your ticket. They must receive your request at least 10 days before the date of your hearing. You can also request a postponement in person at any TVB office in New York City, or telephone the TVB at (718)-488-5710, at least 1 day before the date of your hearing.

Up until a conviction is given, you are considered innocent of the charge against you. You can not be found guilty unless there is “clear and convincing evidence” that you committed the violation

If you do not understand the English language so well, you may bring someone to help you translate. Make sure to tell the Administrative Law Judge before the start of the hearing that someone who speaks your native language and English is there to help interpret.

At the hearing, the ALJ will hear the sworn testimony from the police officer who gave you the ticket — which explains why you were given the ticket. After this you, or your attorney, may ask the officer questions about the ticket. You are also allowed to bring witnesses to the hearing to testify on your behalf as well as written evidence to support your case.

You do not have to testify, but you can if you wish. A guilty verdict cannot be given just because you did not testify.

After all the evidence and testimony has been given/heard, the ALJ will make a decision whether you are guilty or not. The decision will be based solely on the evidence and testimony provided at the hearing and what the law states. If the ALJ decides the charges against you were not proven by clear and convincing evidence, you will be found not guilty. If the charge is proven and you are found guilty, the judge will set a fine. Your license or registration also may be suspended or revoked, depending on the violation and your overall driving record.

If you feel that the ALJ’s decision was not correct, you may file an appeal within 30 days of the decision. Appeal forms are available at TVB offices. Read the instructions on the form carefully — if you wish to retain an attorney to help you file the appeal, you may do so. Remember to include a check or money order (made payable to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles) for the appeal fees listed on the form

Send the appeal form and associated fees to:

Appeals Processing Unit – DMV
P.O. Box 2935
Albany, N.Y. 12220-0935

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CAN YOU BEAT A TICKET?

If a lawyer tells you or advertises that they can “beat” your traffic ticket, you should think twice about retaining them. It’s true that tickets can be dismissed based on technical flaws. In example, the officer may no show up at court.

In most cases though, if you have received a ticket that is written correctly and the issuing officer does their duties in accordance of the law, a traffic trial will most likely end with a conviction.

OUT-OF-STATE DRIVERS

Did you get a speeding ticket in NYS and hold an out-of-state driver’s license? If so, the impact could be severe because most states will treat a NYS traffic violation as if it happened in your home state.

This means that any conviction of a traffic violation in NYS may result in points on your home state license. As a result of this, out-of-state drivers can have their insurance and license impacted from a NYS traffic violation.

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