Always follow through with your traffic tickets.
I am approached by numerous motorists every day for assistance on various NY traffic tickets and driving related matters. I spoke with a gentleman recently who made the mistake of not properly handling tickets he received as a result of an auto accident. He borrowed a friend’s car and there was an accident. At the scene, the officer ran the plates of the vehicle in question and discovered that the insurance had been cancelled. The driver was issued a ticket for driving without insurance despite the fact that this was his friend’s car and that he had no clue the vehicle was uninsured.
This gentleman believed that this was clearly the owner’s problem to deal with. The tickets were simply given to the owner under some vague agreement between the two that the tickets would be “taken care of.” The motorist considered this the end of the matter as far as he was concerned.
Fast forward two years and he is pulled over for a traffic violation and arrested for driving with a revoked license. Since he never followed up on the status of his tickets, DMV Albany found him guilty by default and his license was automatically revoked by Albany for one year as a consequence of an uninsured operation conviction. He now not only had to pay all the fines and surcharges associated with the uninsured operation conviction (close to $1,000), but had to deal with a criminal misdemeanor charge of driving with a revoked license.
There may be ways for him to undo some of this damage, but it will cost a lot of money and take a lot of time and there are still no guarantees he escapes unscathed. The much easier route would have been to simply handle the uninsured operation traffic ticket in the first place. He could have argued he was what we call a “non-owner operator” and won his case and ended it all right there.
The moral is if a ticket has your name on it, it’s your responsibility. Don’t just randomly trust someone to handle it. Follow through on anything and everything issued in your own name until the matter is concluded.
Submitted by Andrea Casellas, Esq.