A South Dakota legislator recently tried and failed to attach points to speeding tickets in that state. The measure failed when a majority of legislators deemed the bill unnecessary and overly burdensome on local residents.
This laissez faire attitude toward punishing drivers charged with a speeding ticket is not shared by our elected officials in Albany. Governor Cuomo, in his recently unveiled budget proposal is asking the legislature to approve new surcharges for those convicted of traffic infractions and is trying to make it harder to fight these infractions in court. The budget, if passed, would mandate new restrictions on plea bargaining, making it harder for New Yorkers to come to an acceptable resolution on their speeding tickets. Aside from presenting an attack from the executive and legislative branches of government on a traditional prerogative of the judicial system (not unlike mandatory sentencing guidelines), the effect of this on New Yorkers will prove truly costly on our already overtaxed population. The state already nickel and dimes its citizens with outrageous fees and taxes on most all aspects of commerce in New York. This measure is solely proposed to raise additional dollars for the state that Cuomo feels the state loses out on when drivers and their traffic court attorneys reduce speeding tickets to lesser infractions. This blatant cash grab isn’t even couched in public safety terms as its sole purpose is to generate income for the state instead of the local municipalities who at present get to keep the money generated from these plea deals.
This proposed measure is also likely to inundate the small courts around New York State that adjudicate the hundreds of thousands of speeding tickets that are issued each year. The only way these courts function efficiently is to allow motorists and attorneys the opportunity to reduce the charges that they face. Most of the local town courts are very small, with limited budgets, personnel and court hours. Some of them are even in the judge’s private homes . Attorneys such as myself in the absence of the ability to gain favorable results through negotiation will be forced to conduct trials in order to protect our clients rights and save them from the problems attendant with speeding ticket convictions. These trials will overwhelm these courts with matters that would otherwise never have been a problem. Governor Cuomo’s initiative is an example of blatant overreach on the part of the executive, a cash grab and ultimately detrimental to the citizens of New York. Lets hope the legislature rejects this folly.
By Matthew Greenberg