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28 Dec2016

How to Dress for Traffic Court

If you have decided to fight your traffic ticket in New York, you may be appearing in court to plead your case or negotiate a plea bargain.  If you’ve hired an attorney, you won’t need to appear personally but if you are fighting on your own you’ll need to go to court.  If you are attending court you may have some questions regarding how to dress  to answer or contest a traffic ticket in NY.  You’ll likely want to find a middle ground between jeans and a old t-shirt (that can be construed as disrespectful) and a suit with a pocket square and leather briefcase in tow (if a prosecutor or judge interprets this as some sign of arrogance or confidence or an attempt to play lawyer they may be tempted to try to knock you down a notch). 

If you do have a New York traffic ticket lawyer and are still attending with your attorney, you can simply ask them if there’s anything in particular to consider regarding your clothing.  Here are some tips in general:  

For Men

We’ll start with men because, as statistics show, men are more likely to get a traffic ticket than women. Men should consider wearing:

  • Something other than blue jeans.  Slacks, khakis, nicer colored jeans might work.

    mannequin dressed business casual

    This would be an acceptable outfit for New York traffic court

  • A collar of some sort.  Long sleeve or short sleeve ok.  A sweater might work too.  Something nicer than hanging on the couch and watching football.  
  • A shoe rather than a sneaker or at least a nicer “dress” sneaker rather than untied high tops or old running sneakers.  Socks are always a plus.
  • A suit or sport coat is fine.  Just think on the more “casual” end of the more formal wear.

The balance here is that you do NOT want to show up at one of the extremes.  Your dress is unlikely to help your case but unfortunately we feel it could hurt.  Stay neat and respectful and what you have to say in court will come with a naturally higher level of credibility.  

What to Avoid: Unless you have a religious reason, avoid hats.  Avoid dark glasses as well–you’ll want to make good eye contact with whoever you are speaking with.  Of course you’ll want to keep your hygiene and appearance as neat and clean as possible overall.  Avoid flashy jewelry–this could have the same affect as overdressing might have on certain judges or prosecutors.  

For Women

For a woman who is planning to attend court to handle a traffic matter:   

Woman in trouser suit standing with arms crossed

This would be an acceptable outfit for New York traffic court

  • Skirts that are knee length (or longer), or slacks
  • A nice blouse 
  • Simple and tidy hair, perhaps in a bun or a ponytail
  • Pantyhose should be dark
  • Heels should be no more than 2 inches — flats may be preferable

What to Avoid: Don’t go for heavy makeup or perfumes; foundation, neutral lip gloss and mascara is good for court. Tight clothing or tops with a low cut are certainly on the avoid list.  If you only own form-fitting tops, consider a nice sweater or jacket to wear over it. As with the men, unless you have religious reasons, avoid wearing anything on your head. If you wear earrings, they should be small studs. Again, as with the men, avoid any flashy jewelry.

The best rule of thumb for men and women is: Don’t be distracting. Let the judge make their decision on your case based on the evidence, not on what you’re wearing. Don’t make it harder to get what you want because someone is distracted or even negaitvely swayed by what you are wearing.  Simple clothing in neutral colors is the best way to go.

What to Expect in Court for NY Traffic Tickets

If you decide to fight your traffic ticket,  how you approach your case in court will first depend on where you are appearing.  Outside NYC, you or your lawyer may meet with the prosecutor to discuss a reduction of your charges or a possible dismissal under certain circumstances.  In NYC, every case proceeds to a hearing (typically at the Traffic Violations Bureau that is closest to where you received your ticket) and that hearing is an all or nothing, win or lose proceeding. There are 8 traffic ticket courts throughout NYC:

  • Brooklyn North
  • Brooklyn South
  • Bronx
  • Manhattan North
  • Manhattan South
  • Richmond (Staten Island)
  • Queens North
  • Queens South

When you arrive at the NYC Traffic Violations Bureau, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will call cases one by one. The case will start with the officer who issued the citation explaining what they saw. Always expect the officer to show up. Appearing in court is part of their job description.

After the officer testifies, you or your lawyer will have an opportunity to ask questions.  At the conclusion of the hearing the ALJ will let you know his ruling right there on the spot.

How a New York Traffic Lawyer Can Help

If you have been issued a traffic ticket in New York, you have legal options. At Feifer & Greenberg, our lawyers are intimately familiar with traffic violations. We understand the various considerations at play and how to fight for reduced charges or a full dismissal on your behalf.

Contact the attorneys at Feifer & Greenberg online today or call us at (888) 842–5384 for a free consultation and to learn more about fighting your ticket.