Many motorists here in New York City are very familiar with the steep fines associated with certain types of traffic violations. As such, they will often look for any advantage they can get to help reduce the likelihood that they will have to dole out hundreds of dollars to government officials in the event they make a simple mistake.
Interestingly, a local news team recently conducted an undercover investigation examining how some New Yorkers are now purchasing so-called police "courtesy cards" for hundreds of dollars over the internet as a form of insurance in case of a potential traffic stop.
For those unfamiliar with courtesy cards, they are often similar in appearance to credit cards and bear the names/logos of various New York Police Department (NYPD) labor unions. Typically, police officers/personnel hand them out to family and friends to keep in their wallets. Many people believe that flashing the card after a traffic stop for a minor traffic infraction will cause the officer to show some degree of leniency.
The investigation by NBC-4 revealed that the courtesy cards can indeed be found via the internet and investigators even purchased one at an undercover meeting with the online seller.
Here, the seller indicated that he was selling the courtesy cards on behalf of retired police officers and even provided an explanation as to the proper protocol for using the card -- display it in tandem with your driver's license.
"They're going to ask, 'Who do you know on the job?'" said the seller. "Make up any name, and they'll just say 'Drive Carefully' or 'Put your seatbelt on.'"
According to law enforcement officials, these internet sales of courtesy cards are tantamount to a scam.
"It's not a guarantee to get you out of a traffic ticket, and for the prices they're charging for these cards on the internet, it's really a rip-off," said Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA). "You're being robbed."
Mullins also indicated that the many motorists in New York City who don't have courtesy cards are able to avoid tickets every single day. How? By treating the officers who pulled them over with patience, respect and courtesy.
Stay tuned for more from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...
If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
NBC 4 - New York, "I-Team: Police Union 'Courtesy Cards' Sold For Profit" Feb. 16, 2012