What should you do if you’ve lost your NY traffic ticket, can’t find it and know that a deadline of some sort to respond or show in court is approaching or has past? It depends on where the ticket was issued and what information you may have available concerning the charge.
NYC / TVB Traffic Tickets
If your traffic ticket was issued in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island or another Traffic Violations Bureau jurisdiction, then you’ll have an easier time following up on it and staying timely.
If you’ve been charged with a moving violation in NYC at the TVB, and you know your ticket number, you can check the status online here: http://www.dmv.ny.gov/PleadandPay/default.html. If you don’t know your ticket number, you can still try the website using a “dummy” number that matches TVB format (try 4211111111). Sometimes the dummy number will get you a “we didn’t find that, but you do have these tickets…” type of message. If the dummy number trick doesn’t work and/or you are just having a hard time locating it online, you can always visit any of the TVB offices and one of the clerks on the information line can potentially help you find what you are looking for.
If you’ve been charged with a vehicle and traffic law misdemeanor in NYC such as Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (driving while suspended or revoked) or Reckless Driving, then you can try to find your case information here: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcrim_attorney/Login (login as a public user). If not (not all cases will be on Webcrims), there are a finite number of criminal courts in each borough and worst case scenario you can pay a visit to the court(s) in the borough where the summons was issued to track it down and make sure the matter is handled.
Nassau County / Westchester County / All Upstate, Local Court Traffic Tickets
If you’ve been issued a traffic ticket in a local village, town or county jurisdiction, and you know which court the ticket was answerable to, you can just call the court directly. The court clerk can update you on the status of the case and what you need to do to proceed or get everything back on track if deadlines have already passed. The clerk can help whether you know your ticket number or not.
If you don’t know which court is handling your case, it’s a little trickier. The problem is there are many courts in each county and you would literally need to call each court individually. Perhaps you remember it happened near or around a certain town or certain exit on a highway and, using a court directory and map, you can narrow it down and put together a list of two or three courts to contact. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, it’s the same and you’ll need to contact the court directly.
If you are unable to figure out which local court your case is in, you’ll unfortunately have no choice but to wait. There’s a procedure that should eventually provide you with the information you need. Once the court in questions deems you “late” on some deadline to answer or appear in court, they will notify the DMV. The DMV will in turn send you a notification that you’ll need to respond to so and so court by a certain date or risk suspension. This is your opportunity to respond and get things back on track with your case prior to a suspension. It’s not foolproof (people move, have old addresses on a license, miss a letter in the mail, etc) but you at least have a shot of avoiding a suspension even if you have completely lost your ticket and have no idea where it was issued.
In summary, in NYC it’s a little easier to narrow things down. There are fewer courts and an online system that can also be used. Outside the city and the TVB, it’s a little trickier but there’s still hope. If you’re in this position and trying to figure it all out, we can sometimes help too if you want to give us a call.
By Scott Feifer