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What Happens When You Do Not Respond to a Traffic Ticket?

It might seem to some New York residents lately that law enforcement is handing out more and more traffic tickets. Red-light cameras, slow zones and a general heightened awareness of the Vision Zero mission all work together to yield this sense within the community. Sometimes, drivers in New York can feel unsure of how to respond to traffic tickets or have conflicts that prevent them from appearing at their stated court dates. If no responses are provided within the stipulated times, drivers can receive default convictions.

A default conviction is essentially the court’s way of finding a driver guilty even if they did not have the opportunity to provide a defense. Some people may be unable to attend hearings because they are serving time in jail. Illnesses and hospitalizations may also prevent court appearances. Despite what drivers may believe when this happens, there is still hope.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles Traffic Violations Division allows drivers to file to have cases closed by default convictions reopened. 

Default Conviction Reopen Process

  • Forms must be filled out and sent in by mail.
  • Only one ticket can be referenced in a single application.
  • Multiple applications can be submitted at one time if there are multiple citations involved.
  • Formal documentation must be provided to support the claims of defendants’ inabilities to appear in court at the originally stated dates.

Documentation can include letters from hospitals, physicians, probation officers, jails or any entity that can authoritatively provide information that indicates good cause for missed court appearances.

Learning about the law and options available in the face of default traffic convictions can be very helpful to New York drivers. This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information regarding filing to reopen default conviction cases.

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