New York City is a world apart when it comes to resolving traffic or speeding tickets. This is because the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB), a division of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, does not engage in plea bargaining. Without plea bargaining, motorists who plead not guilty must fight their case at a full hearing, present evidence, cross-examine the police officer, etc.
What makes this process even more difficult is that the TVB has all types of rules that make it easy for the police officer to win and hard for the motorist to win. For instance:
- The TVB uses “clear and convincing” evidence rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt” as its burden of proof
- The TVB does not permit any pre-hearing discovery
- The judges are allowed to ask questions to help the police officer present his or her case clearly.
All of these procedures make it even harder to beat your moving violation at a trial and may make it tempting to just pay the traffic ticket so that you can get on with your life. In fact, one could argue that these rules are designed to discourage contested hearings. However, there are instances when you should stand your ground and fight your ticket summons even if it seems to make sense to just pay the ticket. Sometimes, this will depend on your driving record, and other times depending on the specific alleged offense.
The stakes can be high, including placing your right to drive at stake when suspensions are possible, significant hikes in your auto insurance rates for 36 months, plus the cost of the ticket which roughly is between $45 and a whopping $600, and a possible Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee.
If you are looking for someone to appear for you so you can save your time and maximize your chances for success, please consider Weiss & Associate, PC. Call us at 212-683-7373, or fill out our online form today! Read on for more information to help you decide whether you should fight your NYC traffic or speeding ticket.
Reasons To Fight a Traffic Ticket in NYC
While fighting a New York City ticket is an uphill battle, sometimes it is a fight you should pick. Admitting fault by paying some tickets can have severe consequences. These may include:
- A suspension of your driving privileges or license.
- A traffic ticket may cause you to accumulate points against your driving record.
- Having to pay additional fees related to the Driver Responsibility Assessment.
- Having to pay mandatory surcharges in addition to the ticket and the related fees.
- Receiving an increase in your car insurance premiums for 36 months.
All of these reasons are significant enough to fight for your rights. And if you decide to do so, it is crucial to remember that you have to file your plea within 15 days from the date of the alleged violation. Failing to do so exposes you to the TVB entering a default conviction, imposing a maximum fine, and possibly having your driver’s license suspended.
When NOT to Pay a Traffic Ticket in NYC
While it is difficult to beat traffic or speeding tickets in New York City, it is not impossible. The reasons to fight are set forth below. However, there are no hard and fast rules and the below is just intended as a guide. To get a more accurate assessment of whether you should fight your traffic ticket, feel free to email a photo of the front of your ticket to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your phone number. Or call us at 212-683-7373 for a free consultation.
1. The Ticket Is Serious or Your Have Other Tickets
When you are charged with what I called a “big” ticket (speeding 21+ mph over, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, among others), then it is worth fighting in most instances. If you are convicted of a big traffic ticket, your insurance rates can be raised even if you have an otherwise clean record. Similarly, if you are convicted of a “small” ticket (any other moving violation), then your insurance rates cannot be raised unless you have already been convicted of a second “small” ticket. If you have 2 or more open tickets issued within the last 36 months (or 1 open ticket and one “small” ticket conviction both within the last 36 months), then you very well may want to fight your open traffic ticket(s) to try and avoid an insurance hike. Even with a clean record and a “small” ticket, you may want to fight your ticket for various reasons including if you are worried about getting future tickets, the open offense carries 4 or 5 points or you feel that you have a good defense.
2. The Ticket Has Errors and/or Omissions
When a police officer issues a traffic ticket, they are required to write the location of the offense, a description of the offense, the section of the Vehicle and Traffic law allegedly violated, the date of offense. Not as critical, but also required on the traffic ticket, are the correct make, model, and color of your vehicle, and license plate number. Therefore, before even considering paying for it, carefully review the information on your moving violation summon to ensure it is complete and accurate. Errors and omissions can be brought up at your hearing at the strategically best time to help you possibly beat your traffic ticket. Note that one or more errors alone do not guarantee that you will get your ticket dismissed. However, the existence of an error would encourage me to lean in favor of fighting it.
3. If There Was Something Wrong With a Traffic Sign
If you got pulled over for allegedly failing to comply with a traffic sign or speeding in a posted zone, and you have evidence that there was something wrong with the sign, such as defaced by graffiti, blocked by foliage, or misaligned or knocked down, you have a viable defense against the ticket. This can usually be proven by photographs and/or witness testimony. Time and date stamped photographs taken close in time to the offense are the best evidence. For tickets involving disobeying a traffic control device, disobeying a stop sign, and exceeding the posted speed limit, the existence of a sign that is not clear and visible is a factor in favor of deciding to plead not guilty and fight your traffic ticket.
4. You Suspect There Was a Radar or Laser Error
Although police officers have speed radars, they are not error-proof. If they are not calibrated regularly, they may issue incorrect readings. In addition, other factors may result in unreliable determinations of speed. These may include vehicle interference, the position of the antenna, and radio interference. This is more likely to occur if you were near another vehicle at the time the radar was triggered. While this sounds difficult to prove, an experienced attorney knows which questions to ask the police officer to cast doubt in their testimony. Note, with laser or lidar devices, these arguments generally do not apply to fight your speeding ticket because they work differently.
5. You Have Evidence Disputing The Ticket
If you have a dashcam, you may have an accurate representation of what happened when you were pulled over. This can include a wide array of things, such as your driving speed, whether you were wearing a seat belt, whether you were using your cell phone while driving, whether you failed to yield, whether you ran a red light or whether you failed to move over to an emergency vehicle to name a few. Sometimes, events occur so fast, police officers can make honest mistakes — but video footage doesn’t lie. Strong, exculpatory video evidence is a factor in favor of fighting your ticket.
What happens at a traffic ticket hearing in NYC?
When contesting a traffic ticket, you are required to follow the instructions printed on the ticket. This means entering a not guilty plea either online or by mail (we recommend doing so online at the TVB website). At the hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will listen to the evidence presented by your lawyer, as well as to the sworn testimony from the police officer who pulled you over. Your lawyer will be given an opportunity to interrogate the police officer, as well as bring along any witnesses and present any additional evidence that may help you. The ALJ will then make a decision based on the evidence presented.
On the Contrary…
Depending on the circumstances, you may be highly tempted to fight your New York traffic ticket— you are sure the police officer made a mistake, you have dash cam footage, or traffic signs were obstructed by foliage. While all of these scenarios are possible grounds for contesting an infraction, there are other gray areas that may make you wonder whether you should just pay for it. If you decide to do so, it is important to be aware of what the process entails.
When To Pay a Traffic Ticket in New York
Although we always recommend speaking with an experienced traffic ticket attorney before making any decisions, there are some instances that warrant considering paying the ticket. These include:
1. After You Have Spoken With a Traffic Ticket Attorney
Do not immediately assume that you have to pay the ticket. First, speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney to determine if there are any way to reduce the ticket or get it dismissed. If you have already done so and he or she recommends just paying it, then go ahead and pay for the ticket. One reason that you may want to just pay it is if it will be hard to win, you have a clean record and it is a minor ticket.
2. If You Have Already Lost An Appeal
If you have already been convicted of a traffic violation, and also lost an appeal, make sure to pay for the ticket during the allotted time frame to avoid additional fees and penalties and/or a driver’s license suspension.
How To Pay for a Traffic Ticket in New York
If you received a ticket in NYC, you can pay online, by mail, or in person. Depending on the circumstances, your only option may be to go personally to a Traffic Violations Bureau Office (read below for more info). You may also be able to request a payment plan.
In New York City
If your traffic ticket was issued in any of the five NYC boroughs, follow these instructions:
The fastest, most reliable and easiest way to pay for a traffic ticket that was issued in New York City is to do it online. However, to qualify to do so, look at the bottom of the ticket to see if it says the phrase Traffic Violations Bureau.
If it does, check online to see if the ticket is already in the system. If it is not, keep checking regularly until it shows up. It can take up to 3-4 weeks for your case to “hit” the TVB system. In the alternative, you can request to be notified by email. Once your ticket has been included, you will be able to pay online if you still have not answered the ticket (this is known as having an open ticket).
Note: You will not be able to pay online if you have previously rescheduled your hearing or originally answered your ticket late. If any of these circumstances apply to you, you will have to go to a TVB location in person.
If you decide to pay by phone, call 718-488-5710 between 8:00 AM and 4:15 PM. There will likely be a long hold time; but one of the menu options offers to call you back when it is your turn.
If you choose to pay by mail, you are required to do so within 15 days of the date of violation, to the address listed on the ticket. Prior to mailing payment, select the guilty or not guilty options on the ticket, sign the back of the ticket, and include a form of payment.
Outside of New York City
Traffic tickets that are issued outside of NYC are processed in county, city, town and village courts where the offense allegedly took place. Because rules may vary from one location to another, you will have to contact the court directly. If you are not sure which one is your court, check the location on the ticket.
What if You Are Facing a Driver’s License Suspension?
If you accumulate 11 or more points on your driving record — or if you get 3 speeding tickets within 18 months — you will be facing a license suspension and you may not be able to pay the traffic ticket online.
You will have to go in person to a TVB location to either plead guilty and pay your ticket, or schedule a hearing to contest it. However, be aware that the TVB currently does not accept walk-ins due to Covid restrictions.
You will have to make an appointment.
Keep in mind that a driver’s license suspension may cause your car insurance rates to significantly increase for up to 36 months. In addition, it will remain on your record permanently. Therefore, it is crucial to timely handle this situation.
How To File an Appeal If You Were Found Guilty After a Traffic Ticket Hearing
If you lost at a traffic ticket hearing, you can file an appeal within 30 days from the date of the conviction. It will cost $10 to do so (plus a $50 transcript deposit), and it is a nonrefundable fee. You can request the appeal either online or by mail.
Print and fill out the Traffic Violations Bureau Appeals form, and mail it — along with the $10 payment — to the following address:
DMV Appeals Board
P.O. Box 2935
Albany, NY 12220-0935
If your conviction is from outside of NYC, print and fill out an Administrative Appeal Form instead.
How an Experience New York Traffic Ticket Lawyer Can Answer Often Confusing Traffic Ticket Scenarios
At Weiss & Associates, PC, we will zealously and competently defend you at your hearing. Because we fight thousands of traffic tickets per year, our volume business allows us to pass along the savings to you. Our flat fee is much less than what many lawyers charge for just one hour of work. Another benefit of hiring us is that our experienced traffic lawyer will show up on your behalf, so you do not have to waste your time.
Weiss & Associates, PC has extensive experience fighting traffic tickets in New York City and throughout New York State. We have a skilled team of lawyers who are ready to give you free advice on your available options. We will listen to the circumstances of your case and steer you in the right direction in your attempts to fight a traffic ticket. Call us at 212-683-7373, or fill out our online form today!