An unbelievable 100,000 unresolved traffic tickets have been found crammed into cabinets at the Greenburgh (Westchester) Town Court.
The moving violations go back as far as 1993. In some cases, the town failed to take certain actions like suspending a driver license, scheduling a trial or sending out fine notices.
I don’t want to get on the Greenburgh Town Court in particular. It happens to be one of the more reasonable courts we deal with and best I can recall we haven’t had any particularly bad administrative issues with any of our cases.
However, we do have clients who sometimes question why a case is taking so long or why their case in one court is not proceeding just like their previous case in a different court or why a notice was sent from a court that shouldn’t have been sent or how we reported one thing to our client but the court or DMV is claiming something altogether different, etc. This incident in Greenburgh is important because it illustrates a couple of points that anyone who receives a ticket in one of New York’s local courts should understand:
1. The NYS DMV will have no idea you received a traffic ticket answerable to a local court unless and until the local court notifies the DMV of it’s existence. Typically, a local court will only have reason to communicate with the DMV concerning a ticket if an individual is late answering or paying a fine or otherwise somehow delinquent or if a case has been completed and an individual has been convicted of a moving violation. This is how people get notices from DMV on an old case after years of conducting business as usual (registrations, renewals, etc) with the DMV. A court finds old tickets and finally notifies that DMV that there’s a delinquency.
2. COURTS MAKE MISTAKES. Had to mention that. Yes, lawyers and law firms make mistakes too but I hope an incident like this helps show that it’s not always your lawyer’s fault if something unexpected happens during a case. Courts are only as efficient as the human clerks they rely on. As we know, humans make mistakes and these mistakes can range from accidentally hitting the wrong number on a keyboard to stuffing 100,000 tickets into a cabinet. We’ve ran into situations where there was a court error and everything was corrected in due time.
Note that statute of limitations has nothing to do with this. Statute of limitations has to do with how long it takes the People to charge an individual with a crime or infraction. People were charged at the time they got the ticket years ago. This is simply a delay in prosecuting the charge.
If you receive a notice about an old Greenburgh traffic ticket or other old NY traffic ticket that has long since been forgotten, feel free to call us if you have any questions. There may be some reasons, most notably the age of the ticket, to think a little outside the box when deciding how to proceed.
Submitted by Scott Feifer, Esq.
Read more about the issue in Greenburgh here.