Feifer & Greenberg, LLP

Should You Pay or Fight Your New York Traffic Ticket

New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers | Feifer & Greenberg » New York Traffic Violations » Speeding » Should You Pay or Fight Your New York Traffic Ticket

Should You Pay or Fight Your New York Traffic Ticket

It’s fair to say that no one is happy when issued a  traffic ticket in New York.  Some people just want to get it over with and pay the ticket.  While that may be the quickest way out of it, payment of the ticket as issued is pleading “guilty” to the charges at hand.  This means acceptance of the full consequences of the moving violation and these consequences often include more than just the fine you’re paying.

This expectation may mean that officers rushing through a car stop or cutting corners on certain tickets contributes to local revenues, but it also means officers issue tickets that may not have a firm legal standing. The officer may also be unprepared to testify that their ticket was just; when they fail to appear in court, your charges are extremely likely to get dismissed.

It is important to understand that paying a ticket is not your only option. You can work with a New York traffic ticket lawyer to explore your options for defending against the charges and/or seeking a lesser charge and lesser penalty overall.   Police officers and traffic courts count on a high percentage of individuals deciding to just pay their ticket and move on with their life.  For those who decide to contest their ticket, there are a number of ways their situation can be improved, whether it’s via a negotiated reduction, an unprepared or unavailable officer, a small error made by an officer along the way or sometimes even just a bit of luck.

Surprisingly, a small percentage of ticketed drivers (around 3-5%) actually contest tickets in court. So, most people are accumulating fees, fines and insurance points that may have been avoided had they decided to fight.

But how do you know if you should just pay the ticket or fight it?

Naturally, we think you should fight in almost every circumstance where a charge may appear on your driving record.  Even if it seems very minor, accepting a conviction on your record when you may otherwise be able to avoid it could be a decision you regret sometime in the future.   Perhaps there will be unexpected consequences from the ticket itself or perhaps you will receive another ticket in the future that might become a headache only in conjunction with the first ticket that you just paid.

There are many reasons why you should consider fighting a traffic ticket and lots of variables to help make your decision. Many people don’t fight a ticket because they don’t want the worry and hassle of going to court, or they just don’t think they have a chance to win.

Common reasons why you should fight your traffic ticket

1. 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.

2. 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.  

3. 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.  

4. 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. 

5. 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.  

10 questions to determine if you should fight a traffic ticket

Here are some quick considerations when determining whether to fight a traffic ticket…

1. Is it a violation that will add points to your license?
2. Is it a violation that may cause an insurance increase?
3. Are you facing additional DMV surcharges or assessments?
4. Is there potential license suspension as a result of the conviction?
5. Is there potential imprisonment as a result of the conviction?
6. Is it possible for the conviction to affect your employment status or ability to drive to work or for work?
7. Is there a reasonable chance of success if you proceed to a trial?
8. Might the prosecutor and/or judge be negotiable regarding a reduction of the charge and penalties?
9. How much time and/or expense is necessary to fight the ticket relative to the potential penalties?
10. Is there someone knowledgeable and experienced with whom you can discuss all this?

You Can Fight Tickets and Lessen Their Impact Regardless of the Circumstances

A big reason people often pay tickets is that they can’t imagine how they will be able to prove they’re not guilty. The courts will almost always take a police officer’s word over yours, after all, so why bother disputing the charges?

In truth, you don’t have to try and disprove the officer’s testimony outright to fight your ticket. You may just have to show that some point of contention is in doubt or that there is some inconsistency in the officer’s case and testimony.  In some cases, a plea bargain can be negotiated even if you feel the officer was 100% justified in writing the ticket.  In other cases, you can simply get lucky that the officer was unavailable to testify.

Common strategies a New York ticket lawyer might use include but certainly aren’t limited to:

Perhaps there is some good way to challenge a ticket that will only be evident if you actually decide to fight it.  You never know until you try or at least review your case in advance with the help of an experienced New York ticket attorney. You don’t have to accept the consequences of your ticket as inevitable.

If you’ve received a ticket and are currently in the process of deciding what to do with it, feel free to give us a call.  We’re your “#10” on the list above: “Is there someone knowledgeable and experienced with whom you can discuss all this?” Because of this, we can help you assess what you are facing and what options are available to minimize or eliminate the potential damages.

Call (888) 842-5384 (888 Tickethelp) or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Your office is in NYC. How do you handle cases statewide?

We have organized a statewide network of attorneys. In our network are both attorneys who work for Feifer & Greenberg and attorneys who work for other firms that regularly provide of-counsel representation to our clients. This statewide network allows us to match clients in a particular county or court with local attorneys who regularly appear on similar matters in the same county or court. It enables us to help clients anywhere in New York State and in our opinion provide particularly effective and affordable representation for our clients. Local attorneys can draw on their particular local experiences and, with travel time and expense removed from the equation, help us keep our legal fees low.

Do you guarantee results?
We can only guarantee that we will provide the best possible client service and legal representation. We can’t guarantee results. These are legal proceedings and we can’t promise you that every case will end in our favor. We will always honestly assess your case (both good and bad) and set realistic expectations during your consultation. We’ll discuss our goals and objectives but no attorney can ever guarantee how a case will conclude.
Should I just pay my ticket or should I fight?

We recommend fighting almost all tickets. Even if the current NY traffic tickets aren’t particularly harmful, you have an incentive to keep your record clean for the future. Convictions quickly lead to surcharges, insurance increases and other complications. You should strongly consider any decision to pay a ticket without fighting.

How can our traffic ticket lawyers help you?

Our lawyers are experienced, prepared attorneys who understand the nuances of fighting traffic tickets. Experience, preparation and good decision making help us to help our clients avoid points, surcharges, insurance increases and the other negatives that can easily result from a traffic ticket.


Common Charges