Should I Complete a Statement in Place of Personal Appearance Form (SIPOPA)?

If you do not want to appear in person for your NYC Traffic Violations Bureau hearing, you may appear instead by submitting a written Statement in Place of Personal Appearance (SIPOPA) instead. The question presented here is whether completing one is a good idea. For the reasons set forth below, the answer is a resounding no. If you cannot appear for your hearing (or do not want to appear), we recommend retaining an experienced New York traffic ticket lawyer (rather than submitting a SIPOPA).

First, let’s discuss how the SIPOPA works. To appear by statement, complete, affirm, and initial the SIPOPA form and submit it, along with a photocopy of your driver’s license and any evidence (photographs, exhibits, affidavits, etc) to the TVB office where your traffic ticket hearing will be held (you select the office on the form). This form must be received, at least, 2 weeks before your hearing date.

At your hearing, the judge will hear the police officer’s testimony and then read your written statement into the record. Per the DMV’s website, the judge will “consider your written statement and any accompanying evidence. The judge will make a finding of “guilty” or “not guilty” as if you were present.” If your hearing is rescheduled by the court or police officer, the TVB will use your statement at the subsequent hearing date. You will be notified of the new date by mail so that you can still appear in person if you decide.

While the above may sound like a good way to proceed, Weiss & Associates, PC disagrees. By appearing via a SIPOPA, you are waiving your rights to cross-examine the police officer and review his or her notes. These rights are very important for your defense. Asking questions and reviewing the police officer’s notes allow you to determine if there are any contradictions between his or her direct testimony and what is written or testified. Such discrepancies can lead to a dismissal. However, a TVB judge will not do this for you.

Further, you lose the ability to answer questions that the judge may have about your defense. It is important to answer a judge’s questions to convince him or her that you did not commit the traffic offense.

Most importantly, in our experience, we do not think you will have success using this format. We rarely see favorable outcomes for the SIPOPA cases that we’ve witnessed.

Given the above, we recommend you appear in person or retain an experienced moving violations lawyer (like us) to zealously defend yourself from any New York City traffic ticket or speeding ticket. Feel free to call us at 212-683-7373 for a free consultation. Or email to a photo of the front of your ticket and phone number. We’ll call you back to answer your question and explain the process.

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