The Impossible Happened: Staten Island Traffic Violations Bureau Got Even Worse

6 Comments

The Staten Island Traffic Violation Bureau is widely known to be the worst TVB court in the system.  There are essentially only two judges there and one, by the name of ALJ Brian Levine, decides most of the hearings.  Due in large part to Levine, this court annually has the highest conviction rates and imposes the most license suspensions compared to the other Traffic Violations Bureau office.  However, the depth of the despair is shown by a recent news story.

Levine recently found one motorist (possibly more) guilty of disobeying a traffic sign despite the fact that he knew or should have known that the sign was unofficial.  The “fake” sign was smaller than valid signs and did not have the official DOT markings.  It was located at the intersection of Arden and Woodrow and “prohibited” drivers from making a left-hand turn.  Multiple drivers who disobeyed this sign were issued a 2-point ticket for allegedly violating VTL 1110a and no one knows how many of them have been improperly convicted.

After an investigation by a local politician, the Department of Transportation (DOT) determined that it was a fake and had it removed.  To help the illegally charged motorists, the DOT issued a letter about the “fake” sign which stated on its letterhead: “A review of our records … does not indicate a left-turn restriction at this intersection.”  This letter was presented to Levine but his sense of “fairness” guided him to find the motorist guilty anyway.  Yes, he ignored an official letter from the DOT confirming that the sign was illegal!  Unbelievable!  This miscarraige of justice certainly highlights the unfairness  of the TVB system.
NBC News asked about Levine’s ruling and these illegally issued tickets, and the Department of Motor Vehicles responded: “Under state law, if a person believes that he or she was improperly convicted, they may appeal within 30 days of the conviction to the DMV Appeals Board.”  Really?  That’s it?  How about reprimanding Judge Levine for abdicating his responsibility?  Better yet, how about removing him from ever deciding anyone’s case again?  The callous and indifferent response is almost as outrageous as Levine’s snubbing his nose at the DOT letter.
Keep in mind that this is the same ALJ who was ordered to take anger management lessons due to  improper outbursts during his hearings.  And it is the same ALJ who was allegedly caught speeding 70 in a 40 mph construction zone by Inside Edition.  Yet the TVB continues to blithely allow him to decide the fate of motorists.  Why does the agency continue to allow such an individual to decide cases rather than ensuring that motorists get fair hearings?
Any system that allows this type of individual to remain on the bench needs to be reformed.  Suffolk County and the City of Buffalo have “seen the light” and recently scuttled their TVB systems.  New York City needs to do the same PRONTO!
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6 Comments. Leave new

  • Why is this guy still around? My husband went before him today and the guy (can’t really call him a judge) didn’t give my husband a chance to give his side of the story and went only with what the blatantly lying officer had to say.

    Questions:
    What are the rates of successful appeal against this guy’s rulings?

    Because of my husband’s ticket, I cannot get an umbrella policy which I feel is necessary to have in place because my mother is ill and receiving care from multiple strangers in our home. If, in the slim chance that an incident occurs and we are sued with no umbrella policy in place during the ticket appeal process, can I sue this guy’s ass off because he didn’t do his job properly and violated my husband’s rights?

    Reply
    • Upset Spouse,

      I do not have the rates of success for appeal against this judge but winning an appeal is near-impossible.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Judges are appointed sometimes fortunately or ( in your story unfortunately) for unlimited terms for them to hopefully be impartial. I’ve had unfortunately two sign summons and appeared with evidence based on error on the face of the ticket based on the fact that the date of occurrence 8/9/2016 and date of attestation 8 /8/2106 by the officer were dated incorrectly. Yes I had gone to a different bourough the next day and got receipts showing I couldn’t be in different places at the time of the ticket……b..uutttt I and my attorney as well as the policeman were white and the judge was of a different ethnicity and stated she’d look at the computer screen rather than the original ticket ( with the officer present no less!) and held me guilty! My atty asked the p.o.later to verify after the hearing and he said it was a bad ticket! My suggestion for Staten Island is request a change of venue based on predjudial behavior or abusive behavior to the governor for removal or censure.

    Reply
    • Alex Glatt,

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience. Unfortunately, you generally cannot change venues at any of the Traffic Violations Bureau locations.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply
  • Matthew Weiss must have been one of those motorists found guilty by Judge Levine … This sounds more like Weiss has an “axe to grind” rather than actual reporting.

    Reply
    • Hey Scott,

      Thanks for submitting your speculative comment. In fact, I have never had a ticket issued to me in Staten Island, let alone been found guilty by Judge Levine. I am not sure how you can conclude that Judge Levine’s decision to disregard an official DOT letter was reasonable but you’re entitled to your opinion.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply

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