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Traffic Violations-Speeding in NY and Avoiding the Penalties

Speeding is clearly one of the traffic violations that concern people the most. Speeding tickets often come with the highest point values, have the biggest impact on insurance and can lead to some severe automatic penalties.

This article provides a quick look at some of what’s involved with the typical speeding violation as well as answers to some of our clients most frequently asked questions.

Note that you may see some distinctions based on the particular court handling the speeding violation in question.  NYS has both local village, town and county courts and the Traffic Violations Bureau.  The procedures in these NY traffic courts are not the same and it is always worth understanding the difference before determining a course of action with any NY traffic ticket.

Traffic Tickets issued for Speeding Violations

How many points do I get from a speeding ticket?

Points for speeding violations are applied as follows:

3 points: 0-10 mph over the limit
4 points: 11-20 mph over the limit
6 points: 21-30 mph over the limit
8 points: 31-40 mph over the limit
11 points: 41+ mph over the limit

What do these points mean? How many am I allowed?

Points are a measure the DMV uses to determine when certain surcharges should kick in and when it may be time to suspend the driving license of a persistent violator. Surcharges (the Driver Responsibility Assessment) start once a person accumulates six points within an 18 month period.  Suspension will be automatic if you accumulate your 11th point from a traffic violation answerable in a local court.  A points based suspension at the TVB is at the discretion of the Judge (it can happen before hitting 11 or it can be waived even if you exceed 11).

What will a speeding violation conviction do to my insurance rates?

We can never give an exact dollar figure when it comes to insurance.  The age of the driver, the driving history, the particular insurance company and particular policy, where the individual lives, the car the individual drives…this all counts.  There are too many factors to give an exact amount.  However, if you must have something more specific, keep this in mind–an insurance.com survey showed a typical jump in insurance costs of 18 percent after one conviction, 34 percent after two and 53 percent after three.  And this was for any kind of conviction, not just the more serious speeding violations.

It’s safe to say that a speeding ticket isn’t good for anyone’s insurance.

How can I get rid of my speeding ticket?

How you proceed on a speeding ticket will depend to a large extent on whether your case is in a local court or a TVB court.  In a local court, it’s likely the best starting point is to explore a plea bargain with the Prosecutor and work towards negotiating the best possible deal.  At the Traffic Violations Bureau, you will need to go to schedule a hearing and try the case in front of a Judge and the issuing officer.

What are my chances of beating a speeding violation at the Traffic Violations Bureau?

It is difficult to assess a case before we’re in court.  On paper, most speeding violations look more or less the same.  I believe there are three factors which ultimately play the most prominent role in one’s chances of success.  We won’t know about any of these before our hearing date in court:

-How full and complete and accurate and convincing is the officer’s testimony?

-How full and complete and accurate and convincing are the notes taken by the officer at the time of the incident?

-Who is the Judge hearing the case?  They are not all the same…not even close.

What is my defense?  What do I say or argue at a TVB hearing to get the speeding violation dismissed?

There are a number of different things we look for and listen for at a TVB speeding hearing.  Some quick pointers:

-There is no “defense” outside of (maybe) a medical emergency in your car.  Even then, good luck getting an officer to admit he observed a medical emergency and still issued a speeding ticket.  General rule of thumb–be VERY careful before testifying that “I did it, but…” because 99.99 percent of the time all you will be doing is admitting guilt and making it an easier decision for the Judge if/when the Judge rejects your “but”.

-Focus on the main “elements” of a typical violation and listen for and look for errors, contradictions or omissions among the officer’s notes, his testimony and the original summons.  Things to focus on include but are not limited to the set up of the roadway, the location of the vehicles in question, location and condition of the speed sign, visual estimation of the speed, when/where/how trained to visually estimate speed, the mechanical method used to measure the speed, how the machinery was used, how it was tested for accuracy and when/where trained to use the machinery.

We don’t know which of the elements in particular we are going to focus on before the hearing.  We look and listen and if we see an opening we do our best to take advantage of it.

Do I even have a chance to beat a speeding ticket at the TVB?

Yes, you do.  If you understand what the Judges consider important, know what you are looking for and listening for and how to flush it out on cross examination and generally know how to play the “game”, you absolutely have a fighting chance.  Even the worst judges at the TVB dismiss 40 or so percent of cases in front of them.  If you have an idea and understanding of what you are doing and seek out the best situations within the rules of the court, chances can be noticeably higher.

What should I do first after I get a speeding ticket?

Whatever you do, put some thought into it before just paying it.  If you are handling the case yourself, make sure you get a timely not guilty plea in to the court.  Most lawyers will take care of all that procedural stuff for you if you end up working with one.  If you aren’t sure what to do, we can offer some quick (and always free) advice on a consultation.  Sometimes it’s good just to understand your options before making any decisions.

By Scott Feifer