I Was In A Car Accident And Received A New York Traffic Ticket: What Do I Do?

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In New York, there are accidents every day. However, occasionally those accidents involve a police officer being called to the scene and, after examining the situation, issuing a moving violation. This may seem unfair on its face given that the police officer often did not even witness the impact. This article will discuss what to do if you have received a moving violation when an accident is also involved.

The most common types of offenses that we see motorists receive in connection with an automobile accident are following too closely under VTL 1129(a) and unsafe backing under VTL 1211.

Should I Fight This Traffic Ticket?

The first question one in this situation should ask is: Should I fight this ticket? When you receive a NY traffic ticket, you can plead guilty or not guilty. Pleading not guilty is the only way to possibly obtain a more favorable outcome. In regard to whether you should fight a moving violation issued in connection with an automobile accident, the answer is usually “yes”. We offer this opinion because fighting it will create three possibilities: avoiding or reducing points, saving money and keeping your insurance rates low.

However, with an accident, there is another, more important reason: to avoid a conviction to the original charge. Avoiding such a conviction is important because it can be used against you in a related personal injury or property damage case. For instance, if you are charged with following too close after rear-ending another vehicle, a New York conviction for tailgating can be admitted as evidence of negligence in a civil case for personal injury or property damage relating to the accident. By evidence, we mean that the conviction can be introduced as a factor for a judge or jury to consider in determining liability. Such a conviction is generally persuasive evidence, in my experience. Of course, if you contest the tailgating ticket and get it dismissed or reduced, then it cannot be used as evidence against you.

One final reason (alluded to in the first paragraph) involves a unique and possibly strong defense. Generally, in New York, a police officer must observe the traffic offense in order to issue a traffic summons. However, in the majority of accident cases, the police officer arrives after-the-fact. Upon arriving at the scene, he or she observes the post-accident situation, speaks to the drivers and deduces what happened and who was at fault. Such deduction is not a substitute for personal observation of the impact.

Contesting a NY traffic ticket has drawbacks, however. The process is time- consuming and, if you retain a New York traffic lawyer, involves additional cost. Further, if you contest it at trial and lose, the judge may impose a higher fine.

You Have Options

In sum, the decision to challenge a traffic ticket post-accident should not be taken lightly. We recommend that you consult with an experienced New York traffic lawyer to understand the nuances of your case and the applicable traffic laws. For more information, feel free to email us a note with a photo of the front of your ticket(s).

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