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05 Apr2022

Pleading Not Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in NY

Everyone knows that getting a traffic ticket is frustrating.  What many don’t know is that pleading not guilty to a traffic ticket in NY and fighting back does not need to be a frustrating process.  It can often be a straightforward and an effective way to fight the charge and minimize or avoid altogether points, fines and assessments.

Feifer & Greenberg  provides resources and support to drivers who are fighting a traffic ticket and trying to protect their license.  They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of pleading not guilty and getting your case started. 

Contact an NYC traffic violations lawyer today.

Common Reasons Why You Should Fight Your Traffic ticket

Clean Record

If you have a clean driving record, you’ll want to keep it clean.  As traffic attorneys we get too many calls from people who have just received their second ticket and are regretting that they recently “pled guilty and paid” their first ticket.  Although a single smaller moving violation may seem like a mere inexpensive nuisance to someone with a clean record, it should be taken seriously.  Insurance can go up with even a single conviction and, even if they give you one “freebie” of sorts, do you want to just concede that and admit guilt to the court?  Once you do that you’re a small fender bender or second moving violation away from being a repeat offender of sorts.  Do your best to avoid being a repeat offender by fighting even your first traffic ticket.

Strong Case or Evidence Against Ticket

If you have a strong claim as to why your ticket was issued mistakenly or falsely, then you should fight your ticket.  Fight not only for they typical reasons of points, insurance, fines, etc but for principle too.  Many clients tell me how they won’t consider paying a ticket simply because of how wrong they felt it all played out.  

You may have some physical evidence like a dash cam video showing there were no pedestrians anywhere near the site of a fail to yield to pedestrian ticket.  Maybe you have nothing other than your recollection and conviction that you were right.  Sometimes people we speak to are motivated by this as much as anything else.  

Avoid Points on Your License

New York is tough on speeders and on cell phone violations and actually most violations when it comes down to it.    Sometimes there could be one larger ticket or sometimes multiple smaller tickets are issued.  Whatever the case, most typical moving violations carry points and points can add up very quickly.  

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles sets a point limit of 11 and thus allows 10 points on your license in 18 months before it will be suspended.  A mid level speeding ticket and a portable electronic device ticket can get you to 11 that quickly.   If you accumulate even six points you’ll start paying surcharges of $300 and $75 per point after that. 

It’s important to be aware of and understand the point system.  It seems complicated but it boils down to some basics.  The DMV doesn’t want people getting too many tickets in a small time period.  They use 18 month periods.  If you get an eight point speed every two years, it’s not great for insurance but DMV won’t suspend.  If one of those years though you were issued an eight point speed and a three point red light ticket, you’d then potentially have eleven points in a single 18 month period.   No matter how much that all makes sense, there are three basic takeaways:  1) try not to get tickets;  2) if you get tickets, try not to get any others for at least 18 months; 3) fight any tickets you get.   There’s no other strategy when it comes to points.  

Avoid Increased Costs

Avoid the expensive fines and insurance increases and surcharges and assessments that come with a traffic ticket conviction.

Fines, surcharges and assessments are all DMV and court costs.  If you’re convicted, there’s a fine and surcharge and points if applicable.  If you’ve hit the six point mark, you pay assessments too.  While there are a wide range of typical fines for different types of cases in different areas of NYS, we can make reasonable estimations regarding these types of expenses an individual might be facing.  

Insurance on the other hand is a bit of a wildcard.   A traffic violation incident can be a thousands of dollars type of expense in certain situations; in others, it may get a complete pass from an insurer.  We get a lot of questions about insurance costs and it’s difficult to provide specific answers.  Different ages and driving histories and insurance companies, etc mean not every traffic violation conviction will affect everyone’s insurance rates the same.  In the end, incidents on your driving record aren’t good for insurance.  Accidents, convictions, suspensions…insurance companies will see you as more and more of a risk the more they see these incidents on your record.  When it gets expensive, it can get really expensive.  Even hard to find someone to insure you at all in some cases.  

Don’t let a NY traffic ticket.conviction potentially cost you all this without a fight. 

Your License Could be Suspended

In New York State, there are a few ways a license can be suspended.  Two of the most common are accumulation of too many points (11 or more) in an 18 month period and one or more convictions for particular types of violations.  Three speeding violations, even if they were the smallest speeds, will trigger an automatic 180 day revocation.  Most violations issued to probationary or new drivers will lead to at least a 60 day suspension.  A conviction for driving without insurance means a mandatory one year revocation.   We’ve seen CDL holders lose their license for convictions that wouldn’t automatically disqualify other license class holders.  

We advise people to be wary of too many points and convictions and to make sure they understand the potential consequences of a conviction even if their record is perfect.  

How to Plead Not Guilty to Your Traffic Ticket in NYC

When you receive a traffic ticket in NYC, there are a couple of ways to plead not guilty. The process can at times be a bit confusing as the DMV technology often fails or some tickets take longer to “show up in their system” than others.  While our attorneys can certainly handle the entire process for our clients, here are the general steps one would take to get their case started at the Traffic Violations Bureau which handles moving violations issued within the five boroughs of NYC.  

Entering a not guilty plea is essentially the process of scheduling a hearing date to contest the charge.  This can be done online, by mail or even over the phone if necessary.

We’ll never recommend entering a plea by mail (chance of it getting lost or being late or otherwise mishandled by the DMV) or by phone (unless you want to take a few minute process and turn it into an hour+) if the online method is available.  

In order to schedule a hearing at a TVB court online, you should have handy your:

  • The ticket number 
  • ID number (if a NY licensed driver) 
  • Date of Birth is out of state licensed (this can be a little trickier without a NYS ID number)

As you go through the process, you’ll be informed of the particular TVB office you are scheduled in as well as assigned a date (or given a choice of a couple of dates) and time for your hearing.  

How to Plead Not Guilty to Your Traffic Ticket in a Town or Village or other local court

Outside of NYC, the process is different.  In all other courts, you’ll need to return your physical ticket to the court via mail with the “not guilty” portion of the summons completed.  Eventually, the court will follow up with notice what is called a “conference date”–essentially a first step in court to attempt to avoid or minimize any points or convictions added to your driving record.

Note that the 300+ courts throughout NYS can vary wildly in how long it takes them to set a conference date.  Some courts will get back to you asap with a quick date; others could take months and months.  Part of the challenge with these not guilty pleas is making sure we stay on top of them and confirm (through calls to the court) that the not guilty plea has been received (and not lost in the mail somewhere) and that we are waiting on the assignment of a conference date.  

Should you ever plead guilty?

It’s very rare that we would advise someone that they “should” plead guilty.  In most cases, there is no downside to pleading not guilty and contesting your traffic ticket.  The fines and surcharges don’t get higher and the point values don’t grow just because you entered a not guilty plea.

There are some unique situations where entering a guilty plea may present a circumstance where a suspension is avoided or an existing suspension is cleared.  When we see such circumstances it’s something that we discuss with clients on a case by case basis.  

Pleading guilty is easier and takes less time than going through the process of contesting a ticket.  It may also seem “cheaper” if you consider the fact that you won’t need to spend time or money on legal assistance.  While we understand people want to put things behind them and just “pay”, remember that it’s rarely just about that fine the court will ask for when you consider insurance, the damage to your record, etc.  

Contact Feifer & Greenberg Attorneys @ TicketHelp.com to Fight Your NY Traffic Ticket Today

Pleading not guilty to your traffic ticket must be given serious consideration by anyone who receives a ticket in NY.  We can help discuss your options, the pros/cons of these option and the process.  Contact us anytime for a free consultation if you have a ticket and are trying to figure out where to go from there.