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Feifer & Greenberg, LLP
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07 Dec2010

Mistakes on your NY traffic ticket

Minor mistakes on your traffic ticket are unlikely to merit dismissing the charge.

Consider some of the information on a ticket issued for a moving violation. Your name, date of birth, address, license number, and vehicle make, model, color and plate, etc. A slightly misspelled name or the wrong color car or a mistake with the address or other license info can easily be overlooked by a Judge because of the presence of all the other information. A Court/Prosecutor/Judge can be satisfied, even in the face of certain minor errors, that the person with the ticket in their hand is the person who was observed driving and allegedly committing the violation in question.

Moreover, if a John Smith who drives a green car were to claim the ticket written to John Smite in a brown car was not issued to him, there would also be an issuing officer who could potentially identify the person in court as the driver of the vehicle and end any doubt.

Small mistakes leading to dismissal of the charges is simply another traffic court myth. The myth likely comes from parking tickets where small errors on the ticket are much more damaging. Parking tickets are issued to a vehicle, not a person. If the vehicle is not identified exactly, then there will be legitimate questions about the ticket itself and which car was allegedly parked improperly. There isn’t the additional information, like address, date of birth, ID number, etc. that could be considered.

In any case, we still do recommend looking over the ticket carefully. While mistakes on a traffic ticket may not mean an automatic dismissal, sometimes an attorney can argue that perhaps the officer was distracted or similarly mistaken about the underlying violation itself. Multiple small mistakes can make such an argument even more likely to succeed. Thus, while mistakes don’t automatically help one’s cause, they don’t hurt either. Mistakes do have some merit and could be used as a tool to help chip away at the sufficiency of the evidence offered against a driver.

Submitted by Scott Feifer