Update 4/24/20: THANK YOU COMMISSIONER SCHROEDER AND JUDGE VAHDAT. We have been given access to the head judges in each court. We and now help motorists schedule and reschedule certain cases and help motorists who were either confused by the pending or past suspension deadlines or who otherwise couldn’t do what needed to get done in light of the court closure. As always, if anyone needs assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Update 4/22/20: In our letter to Commissioner Schroeder, we pointed out the DMV policy regarding pending suspensions and the court closure. Any suspension deadlines that required an appearance in court to fix and fell on a date court would be closed would be pushed back to 4/20/20. We noted that the DMV computer systems showed “troubling and conflicting” information. We were referring to the fact that their computer system didn’t push all the suspension deadline dates back. In many cases, the suspension deadlines had come and gone and this made many people nervous. The good news is these issues didn’t turn into real suspensions–while the public and attorney online screens might look like a suspension was in place, the DMV didn’t actually suspend anyone. A look a the official driver abstract would confirm this. Unfortunately, this is very confusing for people. Making this worse is the fact that most of the cases that did show a pushed back suspension date of 4/20/20 have now not been pushed further back. Almost anyone in this situation who checks their case online might be under the impression their license has been suspended. We are now pushing the DMV a little harder to simply schedule these cases instead of continue the confusion and force all these motorists to come to court in person shortly after they open back up.
UPDATE 4/9/20: Thank you to Commissioner Schroeder and TVB Supervising Administrative Judge Bushra Vahdat Lamas for their incredibly quick same day response to my inquiry. While we don’t know for sure when or how anything may change, the Commissioner’s Office is considering our suggestions. For now, we’ve been assured that any individual problematic situations will be rectified if we bring it to their attention. It sounds like they are doing what they reasonably can under the circumstances. If anyone has a situation they are concerned with, feel free to reach out to us directly.
Note the letter below is concerning the Traffic Violations Bureau which handles traffic violations throughout New York City. Where individual courts outside the city operate independently, the TVB is part of the DMV.
I am a partner in a firm with a large volume vehicle and traffic practice with multiple cases scheduled at each TVB office every day.
I am also a member of the AMVTA, an association of over 50+ firms which regularly appear at the TVB. I have preached patience since day one with all my colleagues as we are all in uncharted territory. I understand there is rarely a perfect solution in situations like this.
I understand what the basic procedure on your end regarding the TVB has been thus far:
-The initial closure was from 3/18/20 through 4/17/20
-Any cases scheduled for those dates would be rescheduled for another date.
-Any suspension deadlines that fell on those dates (at least situations that required an appearance in person) would be pushed back to 4/20/20
-Any existing suspensions that required an appearance in person to clear would remain in place.
The problems we are increasingly having are:
-We now know the TVB will be closed beyond 4/20, “indefinitely”. If so, we are heading for another round of pushing back pending suspension dates beyond 4/20.
-Pushing back the pending suspension date for those who have a pending suspension to one single date shortly after the court is set to reopen means that every single person in this situation will need to appear in the small (if any) window between the reopening and the suspension date. My firm alone has 90+ such cases.
-The vpass attorney system and pleadnpay public system are showing very troubling and conflicting information. I hear from colleagues and clients daily who are worried about potential suspensions and have little faith in the DMV promise that their suspension dates will be pushed back and that we’ll have a fair opportunity to avoid a suspension when the courts reopen. Based on the conflicting information online (I have attached such a sample to this email), their lack of faith is warranted.
I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of examples of the problems I’ve personally seen. I don’t want to focus on any one specific case here but I am attaching a simple example that clearly shows what I’m talking about.
I am not suggesting a fix for all the outstanding issues. My suggestion is for the DMV to at least take a look at these two categories of cases below and my proposed solution. The solution is implemented as easily as rescheduling a case. It can all be done remotely. It will prevent a very large number of motorists from needing to appear in court on the days after court reopens when social distancing is still likely recommended. It will alleviate the burden on your TVB offices as everyone tries to get back to some semblance of a routine. It will allow motorists some peace of mind and knowledge that their pending suspension deadline has been satisfied.
A) Cases where a not guilty plea has already been entered and the last scheduled hearing date has been missed. These are cases that ordinarily will either become suspensions within 30 days of the hearing date.
Proposed solution: These are cases where individuals have already entered a not guilty plea and scheduled hearing dates. Simply schedule all of these for future dates and forgive the fact that the hearing date was missed.
B) Cases where a not guilty plea has not yet been entered but it’s too late to enter the not guilty plea online. These are cases that will become suspensions soon.
Proposed solution: This is a situation where the DMV may want to consider treating cases associated with a vpass account (or where representation by an attorney is known) different from other cases. Association to an attorney’s account is an indication of the desire to enter a not guilty plea on the case. Thus, a simple solution here is to just schedule such cases and assign a hearing date. Regarding unrepresented motorists, we understand if there is hesitancy to assume intent to plead not guilty and/or give an impression to these motorists that they must plead not guilty and attend a hearing.
The only downside here is that the TVB would collect fewer bonds and may assign dates to some cases the judges might have denied if given an opportunity. Under current circumstances, these concerns are quite minor compared to the upside of taking some action to alleviate the situation.
Thank you for your attention to these matters. I hope to hear from the DMV soon.