Getting a traffic ticket in New York is always a pain. Not only do you have to deal with the cost of the actual traffic violation, but you also have to pay related surcharges, possibly a Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee, and worry about points being assessed against your driving record. To add insult to injury, your car insurance premium will also go up significantly for two moving violation convictions within 36 months (one if the conviction is for speeding 16+ mph).
Based on all of these reasons, you may be wondering if there is a way of getting the ticket reduced to something less damaging. If so, what are the available possibilities? How can you prepare for your hearing? And can an attorney help?
Consequences of a Speeding Ticket in New York
The cost of a speeding ticket in New York will depend on how fast over the speed limit you were driving. For example, going 1-10 mph over the limit can result in a maximum fine of $150 (plus a surcharge), while going 31+ mph over the limit increases the maximum fine all the way to $600 (plus a surcharge).
By the same token, points against your driving record are assessed the same way. If you were going between 1-10 mph over the speed limit, you get 3 points. And they keep increasing incrementally the faster you were driving, with a maximum of 11 points for a speed of 41+ mph over the posted speed limit.
Fines are doubled if you were speeding in a work or school zone. If this new speeding ticket makes your total 11+ points within 18 months, your driver’s license may be suspended — taking away with it your ability to go to work, school, and take care of family responsibilities.
What if You Are an Out-of-State Driver?
Even if you are not from New York, your home state will receive notification of your speeding ticket conviction and may honor it (according to their own point systems). This also applies if you are from either Quebec or Ontario provinces — which will actually treat the case as if it occurred there.
When Should You Fight Your New York Speeding Ticket?
While nobody wants to pay for a traffic ticket, you may actually have a legitimate reason for wanting to fight it. These can include any of the following:
- When there are mistakes on the ticket
- When you think the police officer is mistaken
- If you could not see a speed sign due to an obstruction
- When you have evidence that you did not violate any speed limits
- When you have enough traffic points to expose you to a driver’s license suspension
How To Get a Speeding Ticket Reduced in New York
How to get a speeding ticket reduced will depend on where in the state you got pulled over. If you were in New York City, the procedure can be more of an uphill battle, since hearings for non-criminal traffic violations are heard at the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) instead of in regular traffic court, like everywhere else in the state.
Speeding Tickets in NYC
Administrative hearings at the Traffic Violations Bureau only allow you to enter a guilty or not guilty plea. There is no room for negotiation (also known as a plea bargain). If you plead guilty, you pay all related fees online, by mail, or at a DMV office. On the other hand, if you plead not guilty, you will proceed to introduce evidence to show that your argument is valid. Generally, they do not plea bargain in New York City.
With that said, you may be able to get the judge to amend the ticket. The way to get the speeding ticket amended is to poke holes in the police officer’s argument. There are many reasons why a law enforcement officer may offer erroneous testimony, such as having a radar that has not been properly calibrated, or a faulty reading due to a bend on the road or nearby buildings. It is also possible that they pulled over the wrong vehicle, guessed the wrong visual speed estimation, or that they do not recollect much from the incident. Anything that casts doubt on the veracity of their testimony helps you. Further, even if you cannot poke holes, you can ask for an amendment when you are 1, 2, 3, 4, or sometimes 5 mph into the next higher speeding category arguing that the police officer’s visual estimate could be off by this amount and requesting the benefit of the doubt. If you do this and the judge agrees, then you will have to plead guilty to the reduced speeding charge.
Speeding Tickets Outside of NYC
If you got a speeding ticket outside of New York City, you can negotiate the ticket down to a less speeding charge, a non-speeding charge, or even a 0-point ticket. If you do not have any previous violations on your driving record (or, at least, any in the recent past), you have a better argument for leniency.
Traffic courts outside NYC also follow regular procedural rules as in a regular trial, such as the right of discovery — which includes requesting relevant information from the police officer, municipality, and/or surrounding businesses that may have surveillance video of the scene where you were pulled over. You could also request a calibration log and related information from law enforcement, which could be extremely helpful when planning your defense.
How To Prepare For Your Hearing
There are certain things you can do to ensure you are well prepared for your hearing. These include:
1. Check the Ticket
Make sure that everything is correct. This includes the date, time, location, the make and model of your vehicle, and that it is not missing any relevant information, such as the charges against you (how fast you were driving). Minor mistakes (such as the color of your car) would not be enough to get the ticket dismissed but are worth mentioning, but questionable ones (such as the wrong street) may help you throw the claim out the window.
2. Respond Right Away
You are required by law to timely respond to your ticket. Failing to do so exposes you to a default judgment of guilty and a possible driver’s license suspension. All the information you need to reply to on time is included in Section 3 of the ticket, along with the deadline to file your response.
3. Consult With an Attorney
Even if you think you are facing an uphill battle or that you cannot prove that you were not guilty, an experienced traffic ticket attorney will look at all possible angles and defenses. And if you cannot get the ticket dismissed at all, your lawyer will look for all potential ways to get the ticket reduced so that your fees and penalties are also reduced.
4. Present Your Evidence
If you are outside of the city and have the right to discovery, you should have plenty of information available for your use. However, even if you were pulled over in NYC, you can show at your TVB anything and present exculpatory evidence like a diagram, witness testimony, or dashcam footage. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty, and the burden is on the state to present evidence that you were speeding at the rate the police officer says you were speeding.
5. Cross-Examine the Law Enforcement Officer
This can be a little bit more tricky if you do not know what to ask. This is why it is so valuable to have an experienced traffic ticket attorney with you. They will know not only what type of information is relevant depending on your specific circumstances, but also all applicable laws regarding calibration and expert testimony.
Will you have to testify at your hearing?
You can if you want to, but it is not required. The judge (outside of NYC) or administrative law judge (in New York City) can make a determination based on all other evidence presented. And if you have a lawyer representing you, your lawyer can show up for you at the hearing on your behalf — meaning that you can go to work or avoid having to travel long distances to get to the hearing.
A New York Speeding Ticket Attorney Can Help
At Weiss & Associates, PC, we zealously and competently defend you at your hearing. We can charge significantly less than many other lawyers because we pass along the savings that our volume practice generates. We can make fighting your traffic ticket as easy and simple as possible. Since 1991, we have helped tens of thousands of motorists.
Another benefit of hiring us is that our experienced traffic lawyers will show up on your behalf, so you do not have to waste time in court.
Weiss & Associates, PC has extensive experience fighting traffic tickets in New York City and throughout New York State. We have a skilled team of lawyers who are ready to give you free advice on your available options. We will listen to the circumstances of your case and steer you in the right direction in your attempts to fight a traffic ticket. Call us at 212-683-7373, or fill out our online form today!