Traffic Violations Bureau Held Not A Court

Posted by Matthew Weiss on December 17, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles

NYS Department of Motor Vehicles

In a recent decision, Acting Bronx Supreme Court Justice Miriam Best ruled in People v. Serrano that the Traffic Violations Bureau is not a court for purposes of the attachment of double jeopardy. In Serrano, the defendant was found guilty by default of un-licensed operation under VTL 509(1), a violation. He was simultaneously charged with criminal un-licensed operation (i.e., driving when one knows or should know that he or she is suspended) in criminal Court.

Serrano argued that he could not also be charged in criminal court because the Traffic Violations Bureau determination already determined the issue and that the criminal proceeding was therefore duplicative. In ruling against him, Judge Best explained that the Traffic Violations Bureau is not a “court” for purposes of double jeopardy. Judge Best pointed to the different level of proof in a TVB court (clear in convincing evidence versus guilty beyond a reasonable doubt) as well as the fact at the TVB courts are unable to mete out jail sentences.  Therefore, the Court ruled that Serrano could still be charged criminally despite the TVB determination.

In fairness to Serrano, the VTL 509 charge should have been made part of his criminal case (i.e., not a separate case at the TVB).  In fact, if Serrano had been found guilty of VTL 509 at a non-Traffic Violations Bureau court, then he might have won this motion.

New York’s New Cell Phone Laws

Posted by Matthew Weiss on November 06, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips
distracted driving

Using cellphone while driving

Effective Saturday, November 8, 2014, the penalties and fines for tickets for illegally using a cell phone and texting-while-driving will increase. The new law increases the maximum fines for texting and talking while driving. The maximum fine for a first offense will increase from $150 to $200. For a second offense — committed within 18 months of the previous offense — fines will increase from $200 to $250. A third violation or subsequent violations committed within 18 months will increase from $400 to $450.

For young drivers under 21 with junior licenses, a first conviction for texting or talking while driving will now result in a 120-day license or permit suspension. Young drivers will also face a one-year license or permit revocation for a second violation within six months of their license’s or permit’s restoration.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been consistently pushing for laws to punish this dangerous behavior raising the penalty for such an offense from 0 to 5 points. Drivers who receive 11 points within an 18-month period can be suspended. Cuomo said, “Driving habits are developed early, and we are sending a message that texting while driving is unsafe, unacceptable and downright dangerous. There have been far too many avoidable tragedies due to texting while driving, and with these new penalties, we are seeking to change the behavior of young drivers now, and make New York’s roadways safer for all.”

The number of texting tickets jumped 83% between 2012 and 2013, to nearly 56,000. As of July, 2014, 19,291 tickets were issued to drivers outside of New York City for texting while driving, compared to 23,808 tickets for all of last year.

 

NYC’s 25 MPH Speed Limit

Posted by Matthew Weiss on October 15, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 9.26.14 AMQuestion:  When there are no speed signs posted on a New York City street or stretch of roadway, how fast can you drive?  If you answered 30 mph, you’d be right until November 7th.  On that date, the un-posted speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph.  (This new un-posted limit, of course, does not apply to NYC highways which have a default speed of 50 mph).

The lower speed limit is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign to make the streets safer, and is expected to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities.  Meanwhile, motorists can expect routine enforcement of the new limit resulting in numerous speeding tickets.  Speeding tickets are nettlesome because they can adversely affect your insurance rates, lead to a Driver Assessment Responsibility Fee and even suspension.

Given the new law, we thought it would be helpful to provide a chart of how points are assessed for speeding violations:

1-10 mph over: 3 points
11-20 mph over: 4 points
21-30 mph over: 6 points
31-40 mph over*: 8 points
41+ mph over*: 11 points

With the new law taking affect shortly, it is a good time to remember to be vigilant in monitoring your speed, the signage and road conditions.  Drive safe!!

 

Nassau County Speed Camera Locations Revealed

Posted by Matthew Weiss on September 04, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips

Author Note:  Effective December 16, 2014, this program has been repeated in Nassau County.  Any speed camera tickets issued before this date still must be paid.

Nassau County recently launched its speed cameras program.  In total, 56 speed cameras will be installed by October, one in each of Nassau’s school districts.  Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano predicts that the cameras will generate an estimated $25+ million each year.

By law, the cameras can only operate during public school hours between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm.  Each violation of 10 mph or more over the posted speed limit will carry a $50 fine, and there will be a $25 penalty for failure to pay (meaning a grace is given to speeders between 1 and 9 mph over the limit).

Below is a list of 33 of the 56 speed camera locations in Nassau County:

  1. St. Christopher School 15 Pershing Blvd., Baldwin
  2. Merrick Avenue Middle School 1870 Merrick Ave., Merrick
  3. Charles Campagne School 651Plainview Rd., Bethpage
  4. East Meadow High School 101 Carman Ave., East Meadow
  5. Dutch Broadway School 1880 Dutch Broadway, Elmont
  6. John Street Elementary School 560 Nassau Blvd., Franklin Square
  7. Woodmere Middle School 1170 Peninsula Blvd., Hewlett
  8. Our Lady of Mercy School 520 South Oyster Bay Rd., Hicksville
  9. Island Trees Middle School 45 Wantagh Ave. S., Levittown
  10. Cantiague Elementary School 678 Cantiague Rock Rd., Jericho
  11. Gen. Douglas Macarthur High School 3369 Old Jerusalem Rd., Levittown
  12. Lido Elementary School 237 Lido Blvd., Lido Beach
  13. Shelter Rock Elementary School 27 Shelter Rock Rd., North Hills
  14. Unqua Elementary School 350 Unqua Rd., East Massapequa
  15. Chatterton School 108 Merrick Ave., Merrick
  16. New Hyde Park Road School 300 New Hyde Park Rd., New Hyde Park
  17. Camp Avenue School 1712 Merrick Ave., North Merrick
  18. Schwarting Elementary School 1 Flower Rd., North Massapequa
  19. Parkway School 300 Manetto Hill Rd., Plainview
  20. Centrennial Avenue School 140 West Centennial Ace., Roosevelt
  21. Harbor Hill School 3 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale
  22. Seaford High School 1575 Seamans Neck Rd., Seaford
  23. Baylis Elementary School 580 Woodbury Rd., Plainview
  24. West Hempstead High School 400 Nassau Blvd., West Hempstead
  25. St. Brigid/Our Lady of Hope School 101 Maple Ave., Westbury
  26. Garden City High School 170 Rockaway Ave., Garden City
  27. William A. Shine Great Neck South High School 341 Lakeville Rd., Great Neck
  28. Lynbrook Noth Middle School 529 Merrick Rd., Lynbrook
  29. Malverne Sr. High School 75 Ocean Ave., Malverne
  30. Newbridge Road School 1601 Newbridge., Bellmore
  31. St. Peter of Alcantara School 1327 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington
  32. Turtle Hook Middle School 975 Jerusalem Ave., Uniondale
  33. North Shore Middle School 505 Glen Cove Ave., Glenwood Landing

New York’s Red Light Camera Fines Among The Lowest In Country

Posted by Matthew Weiss on August 20, 2014  /   Posted in Parking Tickets

While no one likes receiving a red light camera ticket, there is one good thing about them.  In New York, they carry one of the lowest fines in the county … $50.00.  Compare this figure to other states in the chart below.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 9.09.01 AM

 

The other goods news is that they carry 0 points and do not affect your insurance rates.

With that said, disobeying a red light is a very dangerous violation.  Motorists depend on other drivers to obey lights so that they can enter intersections without fear of being T-boned.  So whenever you approaching a changing light, err on the side of caution for everyone’s sake.

Can An Out-Of-State Driver Take New York’s Driver Safety Class?

Posted by Matthew Weiss on August 06, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 11.30.51 PMWe recently had a Florida resident that completed the New York defensive driving course.  He had a point problem in New York and, therefore, wanted to ensure that he received the appropriate credit for the class (i.e., that he received 4 points off his NY record).

Our law office contacted the course provider who advised it will notify DMV only if the person has a New York Motorist ID number.  The trick is that, for an out-of-state motorist to have a New York Motorist ID number, he or she must first be convicted of, at least, one moving violation.  Upon conviction to a first offense, NY’s DMV then assigns the number.  Once a number is assigned/obtained, then you need to contact the course provider and provide that number.  The provider, in turn, can then make sure NY DMV afford the appropriate credit to the out-of-state driver.

If you have a  difficult DMV question, feel free to contact us or post it on this blog.  Since 1991, we have handled thousands of vehicle and traffic law cases and have encountered all types of unique situations.

Nassau County Launches Speed Camera Program

Posted by Matthew Weiss on July 29, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 8.55.37 PM

Author Note:  Effective December 16, 2014, this program has been repeated in Nassau County.  Any speed camera tickets issued before this date still must be paid.

Last week, Nassau County started installing speed cameras within local school zones.  The first three schools to receive these devices are Plainedge Middle School in Bethpage, Dutch Lane Elementary in Hicksville and Abbey Lane School in Levittown.  All three schools (which are open for summer school), each received a “mobile unit” — an unmarked van equipped with two cameras and a radar machine.

In total, 56 speed cameras will be installed by October, one in each of Nassau’s school districts.  Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano predicts that the cameras will generate an estimated $25+ million each year.

By law, the cameras can only operate during public school hours (plus an hour before and after school) along with a half-hour before, during and after school events.  Each violation of 10 mph or more over the posted speed limit will carry a $50 fine, and there will be a $25 penalty for failure to pay (meaning a grace is given to speeders between 1 and 9 mph over the limit).

But that is not the only bad news.  Suffolk County will be installing 69 speed cameras near some of its grade schools in 2015.

Update:  Nassau County is forgiving $2.4 million in speed camera fines issued in July/August 2014. County Executive Edward Mangano says there were problems with the cameras installed at six school locations.  He told Newsday that five cameras issued tickets on days when school was not in session. Cameras at a sixth location began operating prematurely.  

(Traffic) Trial By Combat

Posted by Matthew Weiss on May 28, 2014  /   Posted in Bizarre & Funny Traffic Items

Tyrion_Lannister_in_the_ValeI’m a big Games of Thrones fan and am excited to see how Tyrion’s “trial by combat” works out this week.   I therefore could not resist sharing one motorist’s attempt to resolve his case using this ancient Medieval procedure.

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NYC Traffic Judge Caught Speeding 70/40 In A Construction Zone

Posted by Matthew Weiss on May 16, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 7.14.06 AMSilive.com reports today that notorious Staten Island traffic judge Brian Levine was clocked on radar going 70/40 in a construction zone.  Levine is the most pro-Police judge in the Traffic Violations Bureau system regularly holding the highest conviction and suspension rates.  Levine was even ordered to take anger management sessions after inappropriate conduct vis-a-vis a motorist over which he was presiding.

At our law firm, we often urge prospective clients to refrain from hiring us for Staten Island TVB cases because it is nearly impossible to win there.  Because Levine raises so much money for DMV through hefty fines, we doubt that this incident will lead to any drastic changes.

Some Motorists Can Be Revoked For Just One 5+ Point Ticket?!?

Posted by Matthew Weiss on April 16, 2014  /   Posted in New York Traffic Lawyer Tips

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 8.41.47 AMIn the on-going battle to punish and deter driving while under the influence, the DMV adopted regulations that trigger a revocation of a driving license upon conviction to just one 5+ point ticket.

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