Have you been cited for a traffic violation in New York? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of drivers receive traffic tickets every year for speeding or other offenses. Navigating the process for resolving the citation can be confusing. The good news is that if you know what to expect after receiving a ticket, you can take strategic actions to prevent certain consequences and increase the chances of pursuing a favorable outcome. For instance, doing things like ignoring the ticket or simply paying the fine can result in a conviction or additional surcharges. In contrast, pleading not guilty and fighting the citation with an attorney’s assistance can help you seek optimal results, like avoiding points on your driving record.
Failing to Respond Can Have Serious Consequences
When you receive a traffic ticket, you must carefully read and follow the instructions on the back.
Any of the following is considered a failure to answer the ticket:
- Not responding within 60 days,
- Not appearing for a scheduled trial, and
- Not paying the fine by the court-imposed due date.
If you fail to respond, the court can take action against you. This can include suspending your driver’s license. While this does not mean that you have been convicted of the traffic offense, it does mean that you cannot legally operate a vehicle on public roads. If you drive while your license is suspended, you could be charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor.
You must answer your ticket and pay a suspension termination fee to reinstate your driving privileges.
Therefore, it is crucial that you respond timely and correctly to avoid issues in the future.
Paying the Fine Is Pleading Guilty
New York courts give you several options for paying your traffic ticket. You can submit payment online, by mail, or in person. Convenient? Yes. But should you do it? That depends on your situation.
Paying the fine for a traffic violation is an admission of guilt. You will be convicted of the offense and subject to additional sanctions. These can include the Department of Motor Vehicles assessing points to your driving record. If you accumulate enough points, your driver’s license may be suspended.
You Can Plead Not Guilty
Paying the fine for your traffic ticket is not your only option. Despite the evidence you think the police officer gathered against you, you can plead not guilty. Again, you can do this by mail, in person, or online.
When you plead not guilty, your case will be set for trial. You and the prosecutor can present evidence to support your arguments. You also have the right to cross-examine witnesses.
The judge hearing your case will render a judgment. If they find you guilty, you will have to pay fines and surcharges. You may also be subject to a mandatory driver’s license suspension or revocation depending on the alleged violation.
You Can Receive Points on Your Driver’s License
Extending on the issue touched on in a previous section, New York operates on a point system. Many traffic violations have a certain number of points associated with them.
Below are examples of traffic offense points:
- 3 to 11 for speeding (the point value depends on how fast the motorist was going)
- 5 for improper use of a cell phone
- 4 points for failure to yield right of way
- 2 points for improper turn
Getting 11 or more points in 18 months will result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked.
The Traffic Violations Bureau Handles Certain Non-Criminal Violations
If you were accused of an offense in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island, your case would not be heard in a local criminal or traffic court. Instead, it would go to one of the Department of Motor Vehicles Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB).
Essentially, the process for resolving your ticket through the TVB is similar to that in a local traffic court. Arguments are presented for and against you, and a decision is made concerning your guilt based on the evidence. However, a couple of differences exist. An Administrative Law Judge hears your case. Also, you cannot negotiate with the prosecutor to try to settle the matter outside of the court.
You Can Have an Attorney Represent You
As with any other criminal matter, you have the right to receive counsel from a lawyer throughout your case. Your attorney can discuss your legal options and let you know how to respond to the ticket – whether that’s paying the fine or pleading not guilty.
A lawyer can also review your case and build your defense strategy. Where possible, they can appear in court on your behalf, freeing you from taking time out of your busy schedule to fight your ticket.
At Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C., we have years of experience challenging traffic citations in New York. Contact us at (212) 235-1525 today.