Fighting A Traffic Ticket At The Traffic Violations Bureau
If you have recently been issued an NYC traffic ticket, you need to decide how you are going to plead. You have two options: plead guilty or not guilty. IF you plead guilty then you will have to pay a fine, surcharge (and possibly other fees), have points assessed on your license, and subject to a possible insurance hike.
If you plan to fight your NYC traffic ticket by pleading not guilty, you will need to schedule a hearing either online or through the mail by following the instructions on the ticket.
Speeding and Moving Violations
The most common type of moving violation is speeding, and because a New York motorist can get anywhere from 3 to 11 points for committing a moving violation, depending on the MPH over the posted limit, it is important to know how to fight such a ticket. It is important to keep in mind that the New York DMV can suspend a motorist who accumulates 11+ points within an 18-month period. It is also important to know that an insurance company has the right to raise your insurance rates for just one 16+ mph speeding ticket conviction (or any two moving violation convictions within 36 months). Any insurance hike would last for 36 months.
Do You Plan to Fight Your Traffic Violation?
However you decide to the plea, make sure you respond timely! If you do not answer your ticket during the time allowed, your driver’s license or driving privilege could be suspended, and eventually, a guilty finding will be entered via default conviction. Default convictions result in maximum fines.
Hearings for traffic tickets issued in New York City are adjudicated at the DMV’s Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB). The New York City TVB does not allow for any type of deal-making or plea bargaining, so you should be prepared for a full hearing with the police officer testifying as the prosecutor if you opt to plead not guilty.
What is The NYC Traffic Violations Bureau?
There are two, very different traffic court systems in New York State, and, therefore, it is important for you to understand those differences.
Tickets issued in New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island) are resolved, in most instances, at the Traffic Violations Bureau. The one exception is for criminal vehicle and traffic law charges (like reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury) which are resolved at one of New York City’s many criminal court locations. A New York speeding ticket issued outside of the five boroughs is not part of the TVB system.
The reason this is an important inquiry is that TVB courts generally do not allow any type of deal-making or plea bargaining. Rather, you must either plead guilty or not guilty and, if you plead not guilty, you are given a hearing where you will either win or lose. In this “all or nothing” court, it really pays to retain a New York traffic lawyer to fight your case. That is a New York traffic attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in fighting speeding tickets at the TVB.
How to Prepare For a TVB Case
Putting aside the emotions involved with fighting your own case, most motorists do not know how to listen carefully or cross-examine. Rather, they often ignore the officer’s testimony, fail to ask any questions, and, instead, just tell the judge their story. This amateurish approach is not recommended and is ineffective when fighting a speeding ticket or other moving violation.
If you do fight your own TVB speeding ticket, listen carefully to the officer’s testimony and even take notes. If the officer omits critical testimony (ex., date, time, location, direction, your ID information), then point this out to the judge after the officer rests. Similarly, if the officer gives testimony that is inconsistent with his other testimony or the information on the ticket, then likewise point this out to the judge.
For instance, I once was fighting an NYC speeding ticket when the officer testified that the motorist was proceeding eastbound on the Long Island Expressway. The ticket, however, indicated W/B (i.e., westbound). After the officer rested, I showed the ticket to the judge who promptly dismissed the case.
Even without a critical omission or inconsistency, you should still ask thoughtful questions of the officer. For example, if your defense is that the officer pulled over the wrong car, then ask “Where were you when he first saw your car?” “Did you have to pass any other cars to apprehend me?” and “How long did you pull me over?” These types of cross-examinations questions help build on your defense.
Also, ask to see the officer’s notes. Read them and determine whether his notes are consistent with his testimony. Any discrepancy should be pointed out to the judge. Do not be afraid to ask the officer to decipher illegible portions.
After your cross-examination of the officer, it is time for you to offer your defense. Speak slowly and clearly. Hand up any evidence supporting your defense such as photos, witness statements, or diagrams. Keep in mind that the judge hears many cases and, therefore, you should not be repetitive or rambling, and should only discuss relevant information.
Free Advice from an NYC Traffic Attorney
One last tip. Prior to fighting your case, watch the judge and how he or she handles other cases. Does he or she listen and take notes? Does he or she seem impatient or distracted? If you are concerned about whether you will get a fair hearing, ask for a new date. It is unlikely that you will get the same TVB judge on the next assigned date.
I hope this article has been helpful in getting you prepared to fight your own NY speeding ticket when returnable at the TVB. However, if you prefer to not waste time in court, we can go for you. Or if you are more comfortable with a professional to defend you Weiss & Associates, PC today and receive free advice via email [email protected] or phone 212-683-7373.