Blocking The Box (aka Gridlocking) No Longer A Moving Violation In New York City

Gridlocking or obstructing an intersection is a 2-point violation.

Gridlocking or obstructing an intersection is a 2-point violation.

The above traffic sign warning against blocking the box or gridlocking has been rendered partially obsolete.  For as long as I have been fighting New York traffic tickets (over 20 years), VTL Section 1175 prohibiting drivers from blocking an intersection was a moving violation which carried two points.  Obstructing traffic at intersection in NYC involves entering an intersection when there is insufficient room beyond the far cross walk to accommodate the motorist’s car.  Gridlock violation does not apply, however, to turning motorists, only those attempting to go across an intersection and obstruct traffic.

This all changed on July 7, 2008 when gridlocking in New York City was given a dual status in New York.  That is, it can still be a moving violation (as in years past) and also a parking ticket made a parking ticket which carries no points.  The good news is, of course, that, if you charged under the new parking law, you will not get points or adverse insurance consequences if you get caught in an intersection blocking traffic.  Instead, you’ll just owe a fine  without any other consequences.

The bad news is that there are now literally 2,800s more city enforcement agents out there that are eligible to issue you a ticket for this offense.  You see only police officers can issue moving violations but traffic agents (formerly known as “brownies”) can issue parking tickets for  this “new” type of ticket.  The $90 minimum fine has also been raised to $115.

The real interesting issue involves the discrepancy between blocking the box in New York City versus the rest of the state.  That is, it is legal to penalize motorists unequally within the State for the same offense?  While this issue has not been addressed in the courts, you can bet that at some point an equal protection argument will be raised challenging this uneven treatment of motorists.

Please note, however, if the officer issues you the summons under NYC Traffic Regulation 4-07(b)(2) entitled “Spillback”  you are being charged with a moving violation.  This regulation provides that no “operator shall enter an intersection and its crosswalks unless there is sufficient unobstructed space beyond the intersection and its crosswalks in the lane in which he/she is traveling to accommodate the vehicle, notwithstanding any traffic control signal indication to proceed.”  Generally, we still recommend fighting spillback tickets as they carry 2 points and can potentially affect your insurance rates.

For now, enter crowded intersections at your own risk.

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149 Comments. Leave new

  • Greetings Traffic Lawer:

    I got a violation of OBST/CRSWLK while I was operating a motor coach bus. I have an NJ License. I received the ticket because another vehicle cut in front of me and my bus rear bumper was on the crosswalk. I no longer drive for the company. Help, please!

    Reply
    • Dee,

      This may not be a moving violation. If it is returnable to the Dept of Finance, then it is akin to a parking ticket and you can just pay it.

      If not, feel free to call us at 212-683-7373 for a free consultation.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • If the ticket says “Notice of Parking Violation” across the top, does that mean there are no points associated? VC 09, traffic rules 4-08(e)(12) — but no information on whether it’s $115, or $115 + two points. If it does carry points now, I definitely need to appeal. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Also I don’t remember if it was a traffic agent or a police officer who issued the ticket.

      Reply
      • Matthew Weiss
        October 4, 2018 11:35 pm

        Ryan,

        If the ticket is returnable to the Traffic Violations Bureau, then it potentially carries 2 points. Otherwise, it is akin to parking ticket and should be returnable to the NYC Dept of Finance.

        Matthew Weiss

        Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      October 4, 2018 11:36 pm

      Ryan,

      A “Notice of Parking Violation” carries no points.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • If my car was blocking the pedestrian crosswalk but not the actual intersection of traffic and I got a ticket for “obstructing traffic at intersection” ticket, is it worth fighting? Was following a mini van through a green light so I could not see how much traffic was in front of him. He moved to the right lane and I was left blocking the crosswalk. I have a dash cam that shows all of this.

    Reply
    • Matthew Weiss
      March 6, 2018 9:11 pm

      Jack,

      You cannot enter the near crosswalk unless and until there is room to make it passed the far crosswalk. Therefore, it sounds like you violated the law.

      With that said, you have nothing to lose by trying to fight it (except your time).

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Is the “obstructing traffic at intersection” violation any points or no?

    Reply
    • Joseph Zalta,

      If issued by a police officer, then it carries 2 points. If issued by a traffic agent, then 0 points.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • I was pulled over by a NYC Traffic Agent and given a ticket for blocking the box but there was no sign in the designated zone. As I was driving behind another vehicle another vehicle cut me off as the light was on yellow. This left me with no choice but to stay put at the intersection with no room to cross over to clear the intersection. This is when my Traffic Agent scanned my vehicle and asked me to pull over to give me the citation. Are Traffic Agents still allowed to give out such traffic violations? I know previously under NYS Traffic Laws, only police officers were able to hand out these tickets.

    Reply
    • Moses,

      Traffic agents are able to issue blocking the box tickets. The good news is those tickets (as opposed to police officer issued ones) carry 0 points and will not affect your insurance rates.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Scott D. Baron
    December 18, 2017 7:44 pm

    Hi, I just received a Notice of Outstanding Violation in the MAIL for a parking violation I supposedly received 2 months ago for “Blocking the Box”, 4-08(e)(12). I went online and retrieved a copy of the actual Violation, which states “Refused Name” under Owner section. The thing is I was never pulled over and never had notice of any violation until the overdue notice came in the mail with the $115 fine plus a $10 late penalty. Does this give rise to a valid defense?

    Reply
  • In order to get a ticket for “Do Not Block The Box” does it only apply where it is spray painted on the floor? There is a clip on Facebook about these traffic meter maids giving out tickets. I’m just curious if the sign and spray paint need to be visible. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Dominique Carl,

      A blocking the box ticket can be issued even if there are no specific pavement markings within the intersection. The law in NY is that you may not enter an intersection unless and until there is sufficient space beyond the far cross walk to accommodate your vehicle.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hi Traffic Lawyer:
    I received a VTL 1175 ticket. Should I fight for it? I was making a left turn in an intersection when the car in front of me which also was making a left turn, stopped moving ahead, leaving me stuck at the intersection. The thing was that there was enough space if the car in front of me kept moving ahead. The guy in front of me did it on purpose because I honked the horn to alert him to move forward. He purposefully stopped right there leaving me stuck in the intersection. I read your posts that you mentioned something about the VTL section 1175 law doesn’t apply to any vehicle making turns, only to those who try to cross the intersection to the opposite side, is this true? I was making a left turn, does this make a valid defense to fight the ticket? Please reply. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Sara,

      Fight this ticket. As you write, VTL Section 1175 doesn’t apply to vehicles making turns, only to those who try to cross the intersection to the opposite side without sufficient space.

      Good luck!

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hello!
    i received a speeding ticked in highland NY. I am a NJ resident. I plead not guilty and drove 3 hours to speak to the prosecutor. My spending ticked got dropped, however prosecutor was not sure what ticket to issue me so that no point would transfer. He asked someone, and they told him to give me Obstruction traffic at an intersection. So he did…. he issued me VTL 1175, and told me 3 times that i should make sure this will not transfer to NJ, and if it will contact him again. I was very surprised that he suggested that. It also raised some concerns, as he insisted that i should get back to him.
    From what i’ve read from your post i think he gave me the wrong ticked. This one will actually transfer 2 points to NJ. The one that i need is a traffic one (sorry not sure of the Statue/section of it)

    Am i correct?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Denis,

      Wrong. He gave you the correct charge for your purposes. VTL 1175 will not transfer as points onto your NJ license because NJ does not currently penalize drivers for “blocking the box”. You do not have to do anything further.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • amanda bouquet
    April 3, 2013 8:26 pm

    Hello,
    I recently received the spillback parking ticket on Varick and Vandam in Holland Tunnel traffic. I sat at the green light watching cars sneak into the intersection in front of me from the through traffic lane on my left. After a couple of lights, and being aware of police ticketing in the area, I felt I had to go ahead or we’d never get anywhere. (Plus the cars behind me were rather unhappy) The cars pulled in front of me as I entered the intersection and the police told me to pull over before the light had even changed and the space was clearing ahead. All very frustrating. My ticket doesn’t have my name on it at all and the small print says the officer must either take my name or leave the “parking ticket” on the windshield. Is any of this worth contesting?

    Reply
    • Amanda Bouquet,

      I honestly haven’t read anything that leads me to think you have a good chance of beating this ticket. If you fight this ticket, your best argument is that you had sufficient room to pass through the intersection but other vehicles occupied that space by cutting you off. It’s not clear from your description if this occurred but, if so, then this is a good argument.

      Good luck!

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hi ,

    I got a white ticket for blocking intersection (e)(12) intersection of Broadway and brome st .I stopped my vehicle (NJ number plate and license ) as someone was trying to cross the road at pedestrian walk when I had a green signal and was not able to move further as many people followed thus leads to red right but I am sure I was not blocking the opposite way and when I had a chance to get in to cross the intersection one officer came towards me and took my license and gave me ticket .
    She hasn’t asked me anything but she gave in my ticket as “Refused name “ which apparently not.
    Can I plead for not guilty or reduce my fine ?

    Reply
  • Hi, i just received 2 violations for blocking an intersection in Manhattan. One was for disobeying a steady red light and the other was for spillback (blocking intersection). The light was not red when i crossed the intersection, (it was yellow) I was not blocking any traffic as the back of my car was only partially sticking out past the crosswalk. I received the tickets at the corner of Church and Walker Streets. I am being very truthful when i am saying that i did not pass a red light and i was not blocking the traffic lane coming across. Since i am an out of state driver (PA) i was told that there will be no points on my license, which is a good thing. I do not live in NY so it will be difficult for me to appear in court, but i feel frustrated because i know the light was not red and i did not block trafic. I have no proof of this and was wondering what you suggest ? I do not see an option on the ticket for a hearing by mail and there is no indication on the ticket or the Dept of motor vehicles website as to the fine amount for the spillback ticket. I was wondering what you think is the best course of action for me to pursue ?

    Reply
    • George,

      Assuming you have an otherwise clean record, you may decided to just pay these tickets. Points from a NY conviction will NOT transfer onto your PA license. I recommend that you contact your insurance company to make sure that convictions to these tickets will not affect your insurance rates.

      If you decide to fight these tickets, then you can retain a New York traffic lawyer to appear for you. You will not have to attend court.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
      • Thanks for the quick reply, I do have a clean record. I have never had points assessed to my licence . I use a large national firm as my insurance provider and have a clean record with them as well. I am a bit reluctant to contact them and tell them that i received a ticket for going through a red light and blocking an intersection because I do not feel i am guilty. I know i am being redundant but i am so frustrated that being caught in a traffic jam resulted in these 2 violations. I know i did NOT go through a red light and i know i did not block any traffic. The most frustrating part is that i do not see how i can prove this? What do you think?

        Also, do these infractions get reported to my state immediately or only if i plead guilty or go to court and are found guilty?

        Reply
        • George A,

          A hearing and decision in a NYC traffic court is largely based on the testimony of the police officer and the motorist. You would have to explain why the officer was incorrect in order to win. On the other hand, because you received two moving violation for essentially the same maneuver, perhaps you’ll be able to beat at least one as redundant.

          In regard to blocking the box, that law is that you cannot enter an intersection to go across it unless there is sufficient space beyond the far crosswalk to accommodate fully your vehicle.

          These infraction will not be reported to your home state unless and until you are convicted.

          I hope this helps. Feel free to call us if you’d like to discuss further.

          Matthew Weiss
          212-683-7373

          Reply
  • Hi,

    I just received a ticket for blocking the box right off the Williamsburg bridge in Manhattan. I drive in NYC for a long time and I know that is is impossible to advance if you don’t block the intersection at least alittle bit.
    If you wait for the space to clear at the other side of the street, cars turning from the cross street would block the intersection and by the time you have the green light again, you won’t be able to move. The light would turn red again for you before those cars start advancing and leaving open space that will be inmediately filled by more turning cars.
    In other words, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO SOMEWHAT BLOCK THE BOX during heavy traffic in Manhattan.
    This ticket is an abuse. I had a ticket for not wearing my seat belt once and I was really upset but I knew that if I wore the seat belt in the future I won’t receive more tickets. The blocking the box ticket is impossible to avoid, no matter what to do or not do, sooner or later you will block the intersection.

    Reply
    • Marcelo,

      I understand your frustration but the law is the law. A driver may not enter an intersection unless there is sufficient room beyond the far crosswalk to fully accommodate his or her vehicle (except vehicles turning).

      Further, it sounds like this may be the parking ticket-type of obstructing traffic which carries 0 points (as opposed to the 2 point kind). These tickets are white (as opposed to a yellow traffic ticket) and are returnable at the NYC Department of Finance. If so, we do not recommend hiring a traffic lawyer. Rather, we recommend pleading not guilty and fighting the ticket yourself.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Hi, does VTL 1175 carry points?

    Reply
  • Seth K. Long Island
    July 30, 2011 9:02 pm

    I just got a “Notice of Parking Violation” OBSTRUCTING TRAFFICE AT INTERSECTION (e) (12).. Intersection of E96th Street and 3Rd Avenue. I don’t even know what happened. Light was red, I was waiting at the light, turns green I go.. there was some traffice ahead of me.. I pulled up waited for the traffice to clear so I could presede. There seemed to be alot of commotion of cars.. I suppose the light then turned RED.. but I was still waiting to go.. I saw a couple of traffic cops.. looked like a training session. One of the traffic cops steps in front of my car and directs me.. I was thinking he was directing me to clear traffic.. then he directs me to pull over..I was shocked. I rolled down my window and asked him if he was writing me a ticket.. he said YES.. I asked him for WHAT?? then he calls over a different traffic cop and he walks away to get more innocent drivers. I was really pissed and told the traffic cop that this was bull_____t. I told him he didn’t even see me do anything right or wrong. He told me to fight it in court.
    In my haste I went to the traffic court in Jamaica Queens that afternoon.. I was in and out in about 30 minutes. I spoke to the judge and he said to me ” I don’t believe you”.. he typed on his computer.. then told me to wait for his verdict outside.. In a minute I was called.. no reduction nothing.. PAY UP..
    First of all I didn’t even know I was speaking to the judge.. he never identified himself. He did ask me to raise my right hand.. I thought he was a clerk just taking my information..
    What a disgusting scam that the City of NY is running..
    Now what do I do?? can I still plead not guilty? If yes how do I do this?
    I had to pay money to park to see the make believe judge.. Mr. Bloomberg should find other ways to generate revenue for NYC..
    Please advise.

    Reply
    • 888redlight
      July 31, 2011 8:54 am

      Seth K,

      I’m sorry that you lost your case. Since you have already been found guilty, your only recourse is to appeal. There is a strict deadline for appeals so don’t wait (if you are so interested). It is difficult to win an appeal (more than a trial) and it does take some time. So you’ll have to balance your discontent with the outcome versus the effort.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
      • Seth K. Long Island
        July 31, 2011 11:59 am

        Matthew,
        thanks for the quick responce. I will just pay the fine, once again City Halls “wins”.

        Reply
  • I was driving an SUV at the speed limit in suburban NY in a 30 mile an hour zone. I was a safe distance from the car in front of me. It was a single late road. Right after the intersection, the car in front of me unexpectedly stopped to turn without signaling so I slowed down. I did not stop, although reduced speed. There was no way to go around the turning car and I did not drive on the shodler or cross the median yellow line . Much to my shock, a police car that was behind me pulled me over for obstructing the intersection. I told the officer that was not the case but he claimed otherwise. He claimed he had seen what was happening. In fact, he was very very rude about it. There is no way he could have seen what was going on in front of me since he was driving a regular police car sedan and would his sight line would have been blocked by my taller SUV. No one else was in my car and I have no pictures, etc. Also, the police officer was alone so it’s his word against mine at this point. I requested his written information of the incident but suspect that will not be helpful. I feel set up. Any thoughts on what I should do to defend myself against this injustice? Thank you for you help. RA

    Reply
    • 888redlight
      July 19, 2011 4:14 pm

      Richard,

      You have nothing to lose by fighting it. If your case is not in NYC, western Suffolk, Buffalo or Rochester, you likely will be able to get it reduced to a 0-point ticket via a plea bargain.

      Feel free to call us if you need advice or want a consultation.

      Matthew Weiss
      212-683-7373

      Reply
  • i got a ticket blocking the intersection violation section 1175 in the town of ossining. can a police officer just walk up to your car and put a sticky note that says 1175 and tells you to make the next right turn onto the local street and a left turn into someones private parking lot. this is a 6 lane road and i was on left lane and another car in the middle lane got the same issue and white truck on the right lane didn’t get anything. another officer on the side street issued the ticket. is this sting operation legal?

    Reply
    • Dave,

      The police officer’s action was legal. However, if the issuing officer did not observe the offense, you have a really good defense to the VTL 1175 charge.

      Good luck.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • i received two tickets one for OBSTRUCTION AT INTERSECTION and another for SPILL BACK at the same time. the light was green i was in the middle of the intersection but not blocking off tracfic waiting for the other cars to move up and when the light changed i drove down traffic continued normally and i was pulled over and given these tickets my question to you is should i hire a lawyer to handle these tickets or plead not guilty and handle it myself?

    Reply
    • Vee,

      These tickets sound duplicative. Therefore, you should plead not guilty and hopefully beat, at least, one.

      If you want to discuss further or get our help, feel free to call us.

      Matthew Weiss
      212-683-7373

      Reply
      • do these types of tickets deduct points off my license??…
        do you think if i get a lawyer i have a better chance of beating these tickets and if so do you know what type of fee they charge for something like this?? also how much do these tickets go for??

        Reply
  • hi traffic lawyer, i got a ticket called Spillback.I was turning right N bound East,and i was at the middle of the street turning East bound while traffic light turned red. There are traffic infront of me,when light turns green i kept moving and an officer coming west bound second in traffic then pulled me over and told me that i ran the redlight. He issued me a tickect saying spill back. please what do i do? Is that a violation with point?

    Reply
    • Ayinde,

      We recommend fighting this ticket. It carries 2 points as well as a fine. The officer must prove that you entered the intersection when there was insufficient space beyond the far cross walk to accommodate your vehicle. In your above description, it appears that you were turning. If so, you have a strong defense to beat this ticket. Turning vehicles cannot obstruct an intersection as a matter of law.

      Feel free to call us for guidance or for us to handle for you.

      Matthew Weiss, Esq.
      212-683-7373

      Reply
  • Thank you so much Redlight,i appreciate it.

    Reply
  • Hi Matthew
    I am a yellow cab driver i was dropping off a passenger on 7th ave and 32nd street in front of penn station but in second lane.the cops pulled me over and gave me ticket 411c obstructing lane.He told it is 0 point ticket only fine of 60 dollars thats what officer told me,is it true but the ticket is yellow?
    and if it is 0 point ticket should i pay the fine or contest it?
    thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Mohsin,

      NYC Traffic Regulation 411c is for Improper Taxi Pick-up (i.e., picking more than 12″ from curb, blocking crosswalk or lane). This charge has 0 points.

      Obstructing traffic is a different section and carries 2 points.

      Don’t hire a traffic lawyer for this traffic ticket, just pay it.

      Reply
  • hello,

    I was stopped for a no-point blocking the box violation a few days ago. I am fairly upset by this because I think it was not a fair stop.

    I pulled into the intersection on a green light and the cars in front of me were starting to move up when the cop tapped on the window. Now I understand that I should not pull into an intersection unless there is room beyond the intersection for me to pull into, but the light was still solidly green (it had just turned green when i pulled up), and the cars were moving up.

    I think this stop was premature…I would not have blocked the intersection when the light turned red. I didnt have a camera with me, and traffic conditions change, so i cannot prove that the light was green when he pulled me over, or that I would have had room across the intersection BUT to the right of the intersection is a parking lot, with an easily accessible ramp from the intersection, I could have pulled in there and I can prove that that exists. I didnt pull in because the ligth was still green.

    He also misspelled my first name, but I understand that this is no reason for dismissal.

    Traffic Lawyer, please let me know if I have a case here.

    Love the blog.

    Reply
    • Belka,

      I am sorry for your misfortune. You have done your research. Everything you have written is accurate about the law. It is a valid defense that you actually did not obstruct the intersection. If the light remained green the whole time, you did NOT commit a violation. It is illegal only AFTER the light changes and you interfere with cross traffic. Of course, as your write, proving this can be difficult.

      I would plead not guilty and either accept the reduced fine option (when it is made roughly 30 days later), or “roll the dice” with your defense. I hope this helps and wish you luck.

      Reply
  • Hi:

    I also received a “obstructing traffic at intersection” PARKING violation by a NYC DOT officer. However, it was issued to me a block away from the intersection in question (which I was not blocking to begin with), after the DOT officer pulled me over as I was driving up the block. It was either stop for him or run him over. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought DOT agents could not pull over a moving vehicle, only a police officer can? If I’m correct, do you know what it is pursuant to (statuted, code, etc.)? Thanks so much.

    -Julia

    Reply
  • Kathleen Freeman
    June 4, 2010 11:22 pm

    just like many before me I had recieved a blocking the box. As I was ready to move forward as traffic was going 2 police officers walked out in front of me which obstructed my moving forward. They wrote me a white ticket, from above that sounds like no pints; but please correct me if I’m wrong. They never asked for my registration or proof of insurance only my licence. the ticket shows nothing from my registration like expiration date or my address. under expiration date it says N/A and under year N/S. Whatever CD stands for I don’t know but under it, it reads NS. There is no VIN#.

    It does have my name, make, plate # and color (which he put tan my registration say beige, if it makes any difference). Also date time and location. But why didn’t ha ask for the other paperwork that I thought was required of them. Now I don’t get stopped very often, but I thought theyneed that information.

    Do I have a chance in fighting this?

    Reply
    • Kathleen, because the ticket is white-colored you are right in assuming that it is merely a parking ticket. You can confirm by seeing where it is answerable. To confirm that it is indeed a parking ticket check to see if it is answerable to the NYC Department of Finance. If so, it is a parking ticket.

      Our traffic ticket law firm does not handle parking tickets, but I can refer you to the NYC parking ticket section of our website which will be instructive to you.

      Reply
  • Hello:
    I received a traffic violation ticket in NYC while E/B on Ericsin pl and S/B on varium st , stating : “Disobey no right turn sign”
    However, there was a big truck in front of me and the sign and the sign was not visible due to the blockage caused by the truck ahead of me. It was a one way street, however my right turn did not cause me to go onto oncoming traffic, I was in the right direction with the flow of traffic, however due to the truck did not see the sign.
    I know this will be points on my license, how would I contest this?
    Any help would be truly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • A wrote an article which will give you a lot of insight about what you are up against with fighting this ticket. It is called Fighting A Traffic Ticket At The Traffic Violations Bureau and explains many of the unique nuances of the New York City traffic courts. In regard to your specific defense, the sign must be clearly visible in order for you to illegally disobey it. However, I suspect that there are, at least, 2 signs at this location. Go back and check. If there two, then it is difficult to blame a truck for blocking BOTH of them. On the other hand, if there are only two, then take a bunch of photographs to show the judge. You can argue that one sign is insufficient notice especially when, as here, there was a truck blocking it.

      By the way, this is a 2-point moving violation so, if you have a clean record, I don’t recommend hiring a New York City traffic lawyer to fight it. On the other hand, if you have other points on your record then you might want to retain a traffic lawyer. In such event, feel free to call us for a free consultation.

      Reply
  • If common people found guilty, then they are punished…
    If brownies found ticket issued on not valid ground, they get to walk away and ticket dismissed…

    Reply

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