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Q&A: New York Speeding Tickets and Other Moving Violations

One minute, you’re driving peacefully down the road. The next minute, those flashing lights in your rearview mirror let you know that you’re in trouble. A simple speeding ticket can have serious consequences including the initial fine, an increase in insurance rates, and the potential loss of your license. Pleading guilty outright could mean, in some extreme cases having a misdemeanor on your driving (and criminal) history. In some cases, these consequences can be avoided by hiring a lawyer to handle the ticket for you. Don’t pay a speeding ticket until you’ve talked to a lawyer!

Based on our 30 years of experience with New York traffic violations, The Law Offices of Zev Goldstein has put together a list of the most commonly asked questions about speeding and other common moving infractions.

Speeding Tickets

  1. How much does a New York speeding ticket cost?

If you were caught driving at less than 10 mph over the limit, your fine could be around $150. 11-30 mph over the limit can be as high as $300, while speeding 31 mph or more over the posted limit incurs up to a $600 ticket.  Bear in mind that the fine is set by the judge, and different people can pay different fines even for the same speed in the same jurisdiction.  Also, these fine amounts do not include the mandatory state surcharges which are generally $93. They also do not include the “Driver Assessment Tax” of $300 for 6 points and $75 for each additional point.

  1. Can I get a speeding ticket if I am caught with a laser?

It is possible to be issued a speeding ticket if you were caught speeding with a laser.

  1. Can I plea bargain on a speeding ticket in a traffic administrative court?

If you are in a New York City Traffic Violations Bureau, you cannot plea bargain. Every case goes to a hearing.

  1. Can I take traffic school for a high-speed speeding ticket?

Traffic school is designed to help extend the amount of points you can receive without being suspended. This is beneficial in the event of a high-speed traffic ticket or other moving violations.  There are many other benefits as well. Some prosecutors will give you a better deal if you take a course. The defensive driving course does not remove points from your license.

  1. I was charged with a misdemeanor for “speed contest”. What should I do?

Talk to a lawyer immediately. Speed contest, also known as “drag racing” is a serious, criminal charge and can carry heavy consequences, although it only carries three points.

  1. Are speed traps set up by police legal?

Some types of speed traps are legal, while others are not. When in doubt, consult a lawyer.

  1. How can I defend myself in court against speed trap tickets?

If you have received a ticket in a speed trap, it is important to note anything that might cause reasonable doubt that you were traveling at that speed, the legality of the stop, and the potential for human error.  Bear in mind that if you choose to accept a plea bargain, you waive any possible defenses that can be raised in a trial and your right to appeal.

  1. If I received a ticket for going more than 30 miles over the speed limit, can’t I just plead guilty?

You can plead guilty of going over 30 miles over the speed limit, but the consequences may be severe. Your lawyer’s advice will help you make the best decision taking all of your circumstances into account.

  1. Can I beat a speeding ticket in New York if the ticket does not indicate my speed?

Yes, it is possible to beat a speeding ticket that doesn’t indicate your speed.

  1. I got a speeding ticket in New York City with the wrong date of the offense. Does that warrant grounds for dismissal?

No, having the wrong date on the ticket doesn’t necessarily warrant grounds for dismissal. If you have a solid alibi for the time and date indicated, however, this may convince the judge that the grounds for the ticket are incorrect.

Red Light Tickets, Failure to Yield, and More

  1. How much is a red light ticket?

The exact fine for a red light ticket will depend on where you were in the state. New York City has a different fee structure. Elsewhere in the state, however, you can expect to pay:

  • $75-$225 for the first offense
  • $150-$375 for the second offense in 18 months
  • $375-$665 for the 3rd offense in 18 months;

As always, the judge sets the exact fine.

  • If you were caught by a red light camera, you can expect to pay $50 plus other fees.
  • These fine amounts do not include the mandatory state surcharges which are generally $93.
  • These fine amounts do not include the “Driver Assessment Tax” of $300 for 6 points and $75 for each additional point.
  1. Are there any common defenses to running a red light?

There are several defenses for running a red light, including an officer who wasn’t positioned to see a full stop, a recently installed stop sign or light that’s difficult to see, or inability to see the stop sign or red light.  Once again, a plea bargain requires that you waive all defenses.

  1. Are there any defenses to disregarding a traffic control sign in NY?

Inability to see the traffic control sign or inability to safely comply are the most common defenses for not following a traffic control sign.  These are hard to prove, but not impossible.

  1. Can I fight an automated red light ticket in NY?

If the images from the traffic camera are unclear and it’s difficult to be sure the car is yours, you might be able to fight the ticket. Keep in mind that New York treats red light tickets like parking citations. The owner of the car is responsible for them no matter who is driving, but there are no points added to the license for the offense, and the fine is only $50. This is administrative only and will not appear on your driving record.  It may be more pragmatic to pay the fine rather than commit the time and resources necessary to fight it.  Consult an experienced attorney for guidance.

  1. Could I lose my license for running a red light?

Each time you run a red light, you acquire points on your license. If those points exceed the limit, you could lose your license for running a red light.  Also, if you hold a probationary license, you may be suspended for even a single red light violation.  If you are unsure, discuss with an attorney.

  1. How can I defend a failure to yield ticket in NY?

First, make sure that the ticket was written properly. There are several subsections of “failure to yield” offenses in New York law, and if yours wasn’t written for the right one, it can be dismissed.

  1. How can I defend myself against a charge of failing to yield to an ambulance?

If you have failed to yield to an ambulance, you can defend the charge by proving that you could not see or hear the emergency vehicle or that it was unsafe in some way for you to complete the actions that would have allowed you to yield.  This is a very difficult ticket to beat in a trial for many reasons.

  1. How can I dispute an officer’s report that I made an improper turn?

In some cases, you can get away with an improper turn. This might include the defense that another driver signaled you to proceed in spite of the fact that they had right of way, presenting testimony that you took reasonable precautions, or other information that justified the use of an improper turn. You have a much better chance of winning if the other driver is present for trial and ready to testify.

  1. Am I required to have my lights on after dusk?

New Yorker’s are required to use their headlights one half-hour after sunset until one half-hour before sunrise.

  1. How much is the fine for disobeying a traffic control device?

The fine for disobeying a traffic control device can be up to $150 plus the mandatory state surcharge. This does not include the “Driver Assessment Tax”.

  1. I received a ticket for failing to signal. Is there any way to reduce the fine and eliminate the points?

One common defense is that your signal’s bulb was out. Work with your lawyer to discuss whether or not you have grounds to fight the ticket.  In many cases, you may be able to plea bargain this ticket to avoid the two points.  If you go to trial, the officer would have to testify that your blinker did work so that you could have signaled before making your turn.

  1. Is a headlight ticket worth fighting it? Does this ticket have points if I’m found guilty?

In many cases it is not.  There are various types of headlight tickets that can be written.  Show your ticket to an attorney who can best assess the consequences and what the recommended course of action should be.

  1. How much is the fine for disobeying pavement markings in NYC? Should I plead guilty?

The fine for disobeying pavement markings is as much as $150 plus the surcharge. A guilty plea will add points to your license and lead to a fine, making the ticket worth fighting in most cases.

  1. Can I get a driving citation for not yielding the right of way?

Yes, you can get a driving citation for failure to yield right of way, including right of way to both emergency vehicles and pedestrians.

Reckless Driving

  1. Can I get arrested for reckless driving?

Reckless driving can lead to arrest and criminal prosecution, as well as adding 5 points to your license.

  1. Can I contest a ticket for reckless driving?

Yes, you can contest a ticket for reckless driving.

  1. Can I beat a reckless driving ticket if the police officer’s report is inaccurate?

If the report is inaccurate, you can beat a reckless driving ticket. Keep in mind that your testimony is not more reliable than that of the officer.  Also bear in mind that most criminal charges can be reduced through a plea bargain.  Discuss your case with an attorney who can steer you the process and protect your interests in the criminal court.

  1. How can I dispute a police officer’s claim that I was driving recklessly?

If you need to dispute a reckless driving claim, you will need to prove that your actions were not unsafe, did not violation two or traffic violations or that they were taken as a result of traffic flow or in order to prevent a different type of accident.

License Suspension and Revocation

  1. Can my driver’s license be suspended for refusing to pay parking tickets? For reckless driving? For failing to pay child support? For failure to appear in court?  For unpaid state income taxes?

Yes. Under New York law your license can be suspended for these and other reasons, some of which have no direct connection with driving or automobiles.

  1. Can I get a suspended license reinstated to drive to work? Can I get my driver’s license back after driving on a suspended license?

In some cases, you can have your license reinstated on a limited basis as a result of hardship. This is even possible if you’ve been caught driving on a suspended license; however, the duration of the suspension may be increased.  These privileges or conditional licenses are granted or denied on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Can an attorney help get my driver’s license reinstated?

An attorney can help get your license reinstated following suspension. Not all driver’s licenses can be reinstated.

  1. A judge has suspended my NY driver’s license and wants me to pay a fine but I cannot afford it. Is there another way to get my license back?

The best way to get your license back is to pay the fee. If you can’t afford it, the New York State does not to allow you to drive.

  1. I handled my own case, but the judge suspended my license and gave me a fine. I need my license to get back and forth to work. Can you help me?

It may be possible to appeal your case or obtain a hardship license to allow you to drive back and forth to work.  Explain the specifics or your situation to an experienced attorney who will assess the best way to move forward.

  1. Can my license be revoked for getting into an accident without insurance?

Typically, a single offense will cause license suspension, rather than revocation.   Driving without proper insurance usually results in a one-year suspension. If a civil judgement is issued against you, your license can be suspended indefinitely until that judgement is paid off.

  1. Can a revocation of driver’s license be appealed at the DMV?

Yes, you can appeal the revocation of your driver’s license, depending on the circumstances. The grounds for a DMV would be based on whether the DMV followed its own protocols in counting your convictions. DMV appeals do not allow you to contest the traffic ticket conviction in the local courts. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to make sure your case receives the defense it deserves.

Fighting a Ticket

  1. If issued a traffic ticket, what am I facing? What are my choices?

One choice when you’ve been issued a traffic ticket is to fight the ticket at trial. Another choice is to pay the ticket and receive points on your license, a fine, and a potential increase in your insurance rates.  Another option is a plea bargain, which is available for most tickets in the State of New York. You can also hire an attorney to plea bargain for you without your appearance in court.

  1. Do I have to go to court for a traffic violation in NY? Can an attorney go to court in my
    place?

In most cases your attorney will be able to go to court in your place. In some cases you will need to appear to help fight the ticket, especially if you choose to go to trial.

  1. Are moving violations difficult to beat in court?

How difficult it will be to fight your ticket depends on the nature of the ticket and in which traffic court the police officer filed. If the officer doesn’t appear for trial, your ticket will frequently be thrown out. In some courts an incorrect filing of a supporting deposition can be a basis of the ticket be dismissed. It is also possible to beat a ticket by winning an acquittal at trial.  While not easy, it can be done.  Discuss this with your attorney.

  1. How can I best prepare myself for my traffic court appearance in the state of New York?

The best way to prepare yourself for traffic court appearances is working with your lawyer. Answer their questions to the best of your ability and be willing to fully cooperate with them.

  1. Do I need an attorney? How can a lawyer help me fight a traffic ticket?

If you are going to fight your traffic ticket, your best bet is to hire a lawyer to help. Reputable lawyers who are familiar with the New York traffic system will be able to help you fight your ticket more effectively.

  1. Are there lawyers specifically for traffic violations?

Yes, there are lawyers who focus their practice in traffic violations.

  1. Can I question the officer if I receive a traffic violation in New York?

You can ask appropriate and relevant questions about the officer’s decision to issue a ticket. You will have the opportunity to question the officer on the stand.  If you are represented by a lawyer, your lawyer will do the questioning, known as “cross examination”.  Remember, cross-examination is not the time for your arguments or for making a speech.  It is only for questioning the police officer or any other adverse witnesses.  You can present your own testimony after they are finished.

  1. What if I already pled guilty and have a change of mind?

In some cases, you can change your mind.  Sometimes a full written motion will be needed and then the judge would have to agree to allow you to change your plea.  Choosing to change your plea, however, can work against you, making it critical that you hire an attorney to advise you.

  1. How can I get outstanding traffic tickets reduced?

In many cases you will not know where all of your traffic ticket are located. Contact your attorney to find out how you can track down your old traffic tickets.

  1. Can you convert a moving violation into a non-moving violation?

Depending on the violation, you may be able to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Working with an attorney will help you learn more about your specific violation and how to go forward.

  1. I forgot to mail my Statement of Correction and ticket to the Traffic Violation Bureau on time. What do I do?

Contact your attorney, who will advise you on how to proceed. In some cases, you will be able to provide proof that you took care of the necessary issue.

Fighting a traffic ticket in New York can be a headache. Thankfully, there’s an experienced team standing by to help you at The Law Offices of Zev Goldstein. Contact us today to learn more about how to dispute your New York traffic ticket today.

Q&A: Moving Violations Part 2 can be found here.