You can resolve your traffic ticket in a couple of different ways. You can plead guilty by paying the fine and accepting the penalties. Or, you can plead not guilty and seek a more favorable outcome by negotiating with the prosecutor (in some cases) or presenting arguments at a hearing. Whatever course you’re considering, be sure to receive proper legal help.
The Different Legal Process for Traffic Tickets
If you received a traffic ticket in New York, the matter could be handled by either a local traffic court or a New York Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) office. Where your case is heard is determined by where the ticket was issued.
If you were cited in one of the five bureaus of New York City, then you’ll have to go through a TVB officer to resolve your ticket. Otherwise, a court with jurisdiction in the county where you allegedly committed the offense will hear your case.
The First Step in Resolving Your Ticket
After being issued a citation, the first thing you must do is respond to it. Responding means that you enter a plea with the court or TVB office.
A guilty plea means that you admit to the charge and accept any consequences that come along with it. You can plead guilty by paying the fine. In contrast, pleading not guilty means you want to contest the allegations against you, question the officer who cited you, and present arguments at a hearing.
At the bottom of your ticket, there should be a deadline for entering your plea. You must respond by mail, in person, or online by this date.
Otherwise, you could face adverse consequences, including the following:
- Additional fines,
- Referral to a debt collection agency, and/or
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation.
Negotiating with the Prosecutor
If you enter a not guilty plea, your case will proceed to the next step, which is generally negotiating with the prosecutor to seek to have your ticket reduced. When you go this route, you must explain to the prosecutor why your situation warrants a reduction or dismissal. If the prosecutor decides to make an offer, they may agree to reduced fines or charges in exchange for your guilty plea.
You can accept a proposal if you think it’s fair. However, you could reject the offer if you don’t believe it is favorable. In that situation, your case would be scheduled for a hearing.
Note that this course of action is available only in a local traffic court. If a TVB office is handling your case, negotiations with the prosecutor are not an option.
Appearing for a Hearing
You might be unable to settle your case through negotiations with the prosecutor. If that happens, you will have to go to the traffic court or TVB office on your scheduled trial date.
During your hearing, the officer may testify, justifying why they issued the ticket. You can cross-examine them. You also have the right to present witnesses and evidence to make your case. Additionally, you can give your own testimony, but you’re under no obligation to. If you testify, you must be prepared to answer questions from the prosecutor.
At the end of the trial, a judge will decide whether you’re guilty based on all the information they heard.
Keep in mind that if you fail to appear for your scheduled court date, you might face an additional fine and could be convicted by default.
How an Attorney Can Help Resolve Your Traffic Ticket
Resolving a traffic ticket can be a daunting process. Regardless of the traffic violation you have been accused of or where your case will be heard, having a lawyer on your side is helpful. They can provide legal guidance throughout the proceedings, letting you know how to respond to your ticket, helping you seek a just plea deal, and presenting arguments at a hearing.If you need assistance fighting a citation in New York, schedule a consultation with Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. by calling (212) 235-1525.