It’s the answer everyone wants when they call or email. How do I beat my traffic ticket? Here’s my general response:
1. Consider which court system you are in. It is either a local NY traffic court, where plea bargaining–a reduction of the original charge–is an option or it’s the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) where there is absolutely no negotiation or lowering of the charge.
2. If it is a local traffic court, then it’s not always going to be about an outright “beat” or dismissal of the entire charge. In most cases the prudent course of action will be negotiating a favorable plea bargain. While a plea to a lesser charge may not constitute “beat” for some people, most are realistic and consider it a victory if the goals we discuss during consultation–avoiding points, surcharges, license suspension and/or insurance increases–are realized.
3. If it is the TVB, where we are forced to hold a traffic hearing/trial on TVB traffic tickets, the goal is an outright dismissal of the charge. Knowing there will be a hearing, many people ask what defense will be offered to beat the charge. Before the hearing starts, we actually don’t know what arguments we’ll make. Consider the following:
A. There are few built in “defenses” we like to use. Testifying that “I did it, BUT…” is very dangerous at the TVB. If the judge fails to accept the “but” part of the argument, then you’ve essentially admitted guilt and have more or less lost any chance to win the hearing. There are almost no “buts” that work. Broken speedometer or other equipment issue, rushing to a medical emergency, from out of town, clean record, need to use the bathroom, medical condition…all seldom work. Judges will tell you to call 911, keep your equipment working, etc. and quickly end the hearing and find you guilty of the charge.
B. Arguments in your defense are “created” on the spot primarily by keeping quiet and looking/listening. The officer speaks (testifies) first and we listen to his testimony while looking at the original ticket and then reviewing any notes the officer used to help him recall/testify. We find our arguments in the form of errors, omissions, contradictions or other problems with what we see/hear. Take two tickets, both written for driving 75 in a 50 mph zone. In one case we may focus on the officer’s training, in the other we may focus on the location of the speed signs. We simply don’t know in advance what line of questioning or motion to dismiss is most likely to be successful.
“Beating” a NY traffic ticket depends on a combination of which court, the particular goals of the motorist and the testimony that is ultimately offered against you. If you have a ticket or issue you’d like to discuss, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to consult and evaluate your situation.
Submitted by Scott Feifer.