In New York, a motorist is allowed up to 10 points within any 18-month period. Points start to run from the date of offense and no longer count 18 months thereafter. Read “A Guide To Calculating DMV Points” for more information on calculating points.
For instance, let us assume a motorist is convicted on August 1, 2013 of a New York speeding ticket 71/50 (6 points) occurring on January 15, 2013. On August 1st, 2013 (the date of conviction), the Department of Motor Vehicles will assign 6 points to that driver’s license. Those 6 points will count retroactively to January 15, 2013 (the date of offense) and will remain on that driver’s license until July 15, 2014, 18 months later.
Let’s say you have 8 points within 18 months already, and are facing a 3-point disobey red light ticket. What should you do given that a conviction will give you more points than allowed?
First thing, if you are eligible, you can take a NYS Driver Safety Class. This class will take 4 points off your record (and save you 10% off your insurance). You can take this class once very 18 months in order to get the 4 points off. Further, you can take this class BEFORE you conviction. In fact, you should take it well before you fight (and possibly are convicted of) that 3-point red light ticket. In this way, the completion of the class will be entered on your DMV record and can and will be taken into account when determining whether you’ll be suspended.
Beyond that, you should plead not guilty and fight your traffic ticket. How you fight your traffic ticket depends on whether it is returnable at the Traffic Violations Bureau (New York City, Buffalo or Rochester) or elsewhere within New York State.
Traffic Violations Bureau:
Unlike the rest of the state, at the TVB, there is no plea bargaining. It is therefore “all or nothing” if you fight your case. Read “Fighting A Traffic Ticket At The Traffic Violations Bureau” to get a better handle on defending yourself in this unique forum.
The one thing worth mentioning here is that a TVB judge does NOT have to suspend you (even if you are found guilty and end up with 11 or more points). It’s discretionary. Researching your particular TVB judge’s reputation and tendencies is therefore helpful. If you are assigned a strict one, then perhaps ask for a new date so you can hopefully get a more lenient one next time.
If you are found guilty and a suspension is imposed, your only recourse is to appeal the determination (or sentence only) within 30 days of the conviction. A stay of the suspension can be requested and will generally be granted if you can show that alternative travel to work, school, etc. does not reasonaably exist. If you lose the appeal, then the only other option is to prosecute an Article 78 proceeding. This is expensive, time-consuming and legally technical. Consult with a NY traffic lawyer if you are interested in learning more about the Article 78 process.
At non-TVB courts, a motorist with potentially too many points, should always plead not guilty. Do NOT plead guilty with an explanation. You will be assigned a court date where you should ask to conference your case with the prosecutor. Dress nice (business casual, always be polite and avoid being self-righteous and arrogant.
You likely can negotiate a reduction to a less serious charge. Make sure you understand how many points you have and how many additional you can “eat”. Hopefully, you can negotiate a plea deal that puts you under 11 points. If not, you’ll have to ask for a trial.
If you lose your case and end up with too many points, then DMV will send you a notice in roughly 30 days. This notice will set forth your proposed suspension period and, if you don’t want to accept it, you can complete a section in this form which allows you to ask for a “points” hearing. Be careful: I’ve seen motorists end up with longer suspension by asking for the hearing. Anyway, at your hearing, you can present whatever evidence you think will help convince the judge that no suspension (or a lesser one) should be imposed.
The foregoing is intended as a general overview. Anyone with a point problem should consult with an experienced NY traffic ticket lawyer (if not hire one).