New York’s failure to yield the right of way laws are varied and somewhat confusing. It’s not uncommon for a driver to receive a traffic ticket for failing to yield without entirely understanding what he or she did wrong. Further, many New Yorkers are not fully aware of the consequences associated with this type of moving violation, or how to successfully defend it.
Failing to Yield Explained
The term “failure to yield the right of way” encompasses a vast array of infractions in New York. Title VII, Article 26 of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law Code (NY VTL) outlines the rules drivers must follow in different situations, including:
- approaching an intersection,
- turning left,
- entering a stop or yield intersection,
- entering a roadway,
- approaching an emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights,
- approaching a parked, stopped, or standing authorized emergency vehicle or hazard vehicle,
- entering or leaving a rotary traffic circle,
- approaching a bike/pedestrian or animal, and
- approaching horses.
This section of legal code establishes who has the right of way in the above scenarios. Emergency and hazard response vehicles displaying flashing lights are always granted the right of way. Generally speaking, pedestrians and vehicles already operating on a roadway or in an intersection are given the right of way under the law.
Often, a driver who is ticketed for failing to yield is simultaneously ticketed for at least one other motor vehicle infraction. Some of the most common companion violations are:
- Improper turn
- Failing to signal
- Reckless driving
- Improper passing
- Unsafe lane change
As a driver in New York, it is critical to understand who has the right of way and who must yield in different scenarios to maintain the safe flow of traffic. Failing to properly yield the right of way may result in accidents and harm or even death to pedestrians and other motorists. Sections 1140 to 1146 of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law establish the common framework for drivers to follow to minimize the risks associated with failing to yield.
Consequences of Failing to Yield
Receiving a ticket for failing to yield the right of way in New York carries 3 points and a fine. A companion moving violation ticket can be 2, 3 or more points. Points are bad because they can lead to a suspension if you accumulate 11+ and to payment of a Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) explains:
If you receive 6 points on your driver record for violations committed during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $100. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $300. If you receive more than 6 points on your driver record during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $25 for each point in addition to the original six points. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $75 for each point in addition to the original 6 points. (New York Department of Motor Vehicles)
Further, those convicted of failing to yield the right of way must pay a fine and surcharge. First-time offenders are required to pay a fine of roughly $150; two offenses for failing to yield in an eighteen month period results in around a $300 fine. If a driver is charged with this violation a third time within eighteen months, the fine is can be as high as $750.
The legal consequences are not the only problems that may arise as a result of a driver failing to yield. The laws are in place to protect drivers and pedestrians, and failing to abide by the established rules and regulations can result in injury or death. For your own safety, the safety of all concerned, it is absolutely imperative to understand and follow the rules of the road in regards to yielding the right of way.
Defending Against a Failure to Yield Violation
Many New Yorkers are under the impression that if you receive a traffic ticket, you have to pay the fines and fees without being able to fight the alleged violation. This assumption is incorrect. With a reliable attorney knowledgeable in New York’s traffic laws and codes, it is possible to defend yourself from the consequences of a failure to yield the right of way moving violation.
The most important step in defending yourself against a ticket for failing to yield is to not admit guilt until you have consulted with the proper legal counsel. If you plead guilty from the get-go, it is virtually impossible for even the best lawyer to save you from the ticket. Luckily, there are several defenses that a properly-trained and well-educated attorney may be able to use to fight a ticket for failing to yield, such as:
- Showing that you did not, in fact, fail to yield the right of way
- Showing that you actually had the right of way
- Arguing that your actions were necessary to the prevention of an accident
- Proving that visibility was poor at the time and place of the alleged infraction
While you may be able to develop and use a winning defense in a New York court, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel to defend against a ticket for failing to yield the right of way.
Since 1991, the traffic attorneys of Weiss and Associates, PC, have helped over 100,000 New Yorkers fight motor vehicle infractions. For more information about New York’s laws regarding yielding the right of way, or to discuss your defense options with a free consultation, contact us today!