A violation is a lower level “criminal” matter. It’s criminal in the sense that all cases are either criminal or civil. While civil cases are one individual or entity v another individual or entity in some kind of private dispute, criminal cases are those that are brought by the “People” against an individual for some action that is deemed harmful to society in general. Violations or infractions are the lowest level of these criminal acts. Traffic or moving violations are one particular kind of violation. There are also parking violations, environmental violations such as littering or improper disposal of trash, etc.
When someone is discussing having a “criminal record”, this is usually meant to signify a more serious criminal charge (misdemeanor or felony) on the person’s record. Generally, the more serious criminal charges will of course have the more severe penalties but penalties for violations can also be serious. Just ask anyone who has lost their job or their driving privilege or paid $1000s in fines and surcharges for basic traffic violations. Different types of violations can have different types of penalties. For example moving violations may come with points on one’s license where a parking violation would not.
If you are found guilty of a traffic violation, you may be subject to:
- Fines and surcharges due to the court. These alone may justify the expense of a traffic ticket attorney.
- Points added to your license
- License Suspension – Either due to a specific type of violation or an accumulation of points, convictions can lead to suspension of your driver license.
- Revocation – Convictions for certain types of violations can lead to full revocation of your driver license.
- DMV Driver Assessments – Potential state surcharges based on point accumulation.
- Unemployment – If you drive on behalf or your company, accumulation of points makes you a greater insurance risk and could result in your termination.
- Raised insurance premiums – Convictions, even if they carry no points, make a motorist a greater risk to insure and therefore subject to higher insurance rates
In theory, judges will consider imprisonment in extremely dangerous situations. However, we won’t list that with the others–traffic violations will of course very rarely rise to this level of severe punishment.
Our mission at Feifer & Greenberg is always to eliminate or minimize the potential damage caused by traffic violation convictions.
How do we try to eliminate or minimize the consequences of traffic tickets?
The goal when we defend a client against any traffic violation or traffic misdemeanor charge would of course be a full dismissal. In some situations, this is exactly what we try to do. In others, a full dismissal might be a long shot and/or costly to pursue and something just short of a dismissal might be the more reasonable and prudent goal. There are some situations where people may be facing suspensions or loss of a job or even imprisonment–in these cases our most immediate and realistic goal might start with avoiding these particularly harsh penalties.
While everyone’s situation may differ depending on what they’ve been charged with, what their existing driving record is like and which court is handling their matter, there really are only three options when it comes to contesting the traffic charge. All start with an entry of a not guilty plea and then either:
- A hearing or trial. This is where the officer will offer testimony regarding what he observed and the judge will issue a ruling of either guilty as charged or not guilty/case dismissed. Some courts will require us to proceed to a hearing or trial in every case while others will allow for some negotiation process first in an attempt to avoid a hearing or trial.
- Negotiation. This is where we are able to change the charge against you to a lower one and then enter a guilty plea to that lower charge. It’s a plea bargain. The lower charge would be a different moving violation or non-moving violation that carries lesser penalties and helps us minimize or eliminate the consequences attached to the original charge
- Other. Defensive driving or other court recommended classes…community service…sometimes there are steps we can take outside of court to help convince the prosecutor to drop certain penalties or improve upon the deal we are attempting to negotiate.
Which courts handle traffic violations?
Traffic violations in NYC are handled by the DMV’s Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB). The TVB only handles traffic violations issued in the 5 boroughs of NYC. The most notable feature of the TVB is that there is absolutely no plea bargaining / negotiation allowed. Everything there proceeds to a hearing.
Traffic violations outside NYC are processed in a local village, town, city or county court. There are hundreds of such courts throughout New York State and to some extent each court handles matters their own way. We keep a database of thousands of cases in these local courts and rely on these prior results and interactions in offering individuals advice on how to handle their matter and what we may expect as an outcome.
Note that your personal appearance on a traffic violation will never be necessary in a typical traffic violation case.
FREE CASE EVALUATION
We have organized a statewide network of attorneys. In our network are both attorneys who work for Feifer & Greenberg and attorneys who work for other firms that regularly provide of-counsel representation to our clients. This statewide network allows us to match clients in a particular county or court with local attorneys who regularly appear on similar matters in the same county or court. It enables us to help clients anywhere in New York State and in our opinion provide particularly effective and affordable representation for our clients. Local attorneys can draw on their particular local experiences and, with travel time and expense removed from the equation, help us keep our legal fees low.
We can only guarantee that we will provide the best possible client service and legal representation. We can’t guarantee results. These are legal proceedings and we can’t promise you that every case will end in our favor. We will always honestly assess your case (both good and bad) and set realistic expectations during your consultation. We’ll discuss our goals and objectives but no attorney can ever guarantee how a case will conclude.
We recommend fighting almost all tickets. Even if the current NY traffic tickets aren’t particularly harmful, you have an incentive to keep your record clean for the future. Convictions quickly lead to surcharges, insurance increases and other complications. You should strongly consider any decision to pay a ticket without fighting.
Our lawyers are experienced, prepared attorneys who understand the nuances of fighting traffic tickets. Experience, preparation and good decision making help us to help our clients avoid points, surcharges, insurance increases and the other negatives that can easily result from a traffic ticket.