When charged with a traffic violation, it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of traffic courts in New York.
The Traffic Violations Bureau
The TVB is not a true court. It is a state administrative agency (part of the Department of Motor Vehicles) that handles traffic tickets issued in the five boroughs of New York City
At the TVB :
There is no plea bargaining at the TVB. For each violation, there will be a hearing in front of the Judge. The officer will be called to testify and offer his or her account of the circumstances and why the traffic ticket was issued. The police officer serves as Prosecutor—there is no District Attorney is not involved with these administrative hearings.
At your hearing, at the close of the officer’s testimony you or your attorney will be given the opportunity to ask the officer any questions you have. At the close of the case, the judge will make a decision. He will find you either not guilty (no points, no fine) or guilty (points if applicable and fine). There will be no negotiation or reduction of the charge possible at the TVB.
If you fail to respond to a traffic ticket you receive in NYC in a timely manner, you can expect your driver license or driving privileges to be suspended in a relatively short period of time. A continued failure to respond will eventually end up in a default conviction.
Feifer & Greenberg, LLP has extensive experience and has successfully defended thousands of drivers at the TVB. Our attorneys are in each TVB office every day to fight cell phone tickets, speeding tickets and other moving violations issued in the TVB jurisdictions. We are confident that our firm provides the absolute best TVB representation and defense possible.
Local Village, Town, City and County Courts:
Local village, town, city and county courts throughout the state handle traffic tickets issued outside of New York City and the Traffic Violation Bureau jurisdictions. Unlike the Traffic Violations Bureau, these are actual courts that follow traditional court procedures and often handle matters beyond traffic tickets. If you fail to appear for your hearing date, these courts will utimately notify the DMV regarding your failure to appear. Some courts are quicker to do this and more aggressive than others.
In these courts, there will often be a prosecutor (not the officer) you can speak to and try to work out some kind of plea reduction on your charge. In most cases, this is a strategy we employ. While the specifics might depend on which court we are in, what our client’s overall record is like and what particular traffic violation(s) we are dealing with, in most cases we can get prosecutors to agree to lower the charge pending against our client. This means getting them to agree to a deal which can significantly reduce the fine, surcharges, points, driver assessment fees and potential insurance increases.
While a trial could be necessary if we can’t work out a deal that works for our client, this is extremely rare.
There are many local courts throughout the state and they don’t all handle traffic tickets exactly the same. Understanding these differences is crucial as far as the strategy we employ and the recommendations we make to our clients.
Feifer & Greenberg, LLP appears daily to contest traffic tickets in local courts throughout New York. Our partners, associates and of-counsel attorneys are quite experienced and we are proud of our achievements and history of success in these courts.
Pleading Not Guilty to Your Ticket
As previously mentioned, failure to answer or appear on a traffic violation charge can quickly result in the suspension of your driver license. It’s important to make sure you do this in a timely fashion, especially if you intend to contest the charge.
At the TVB, a not guilty plea can be entered in person at the court (bring your traffic ticket and your license) or via mail or online. We stronly recomment online rather than taking the time to appear in person or relying on the mail to resolve the matter in a timely fashion. Note that the TVB tickets show 15 days to enter your plea from the time you receive the ticket.
In the local courts, you’ll see on your ticket a “return date”. It is by this date that you must enter your plea. You can do so by appearing in person on or before that date but we never recommend that. The better decision would be to return your summons and plea by mail. If you are pleading not guilty, you will be notified of your actual conference date in court.
Note that most full service lawyers will include entry of the plea as part of their fee so if you have a case and are planning to hire an attorney you should do so earlier rather than later in the process so the attorney can monitor all aspects of the process and make sure everything remains on time as the case moves forward.
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What Our Clients Say
I have been using Feifer and Greenberg for all of my driving ticket issues for about 10 years. They are always reliable, professional, and have been able to dismiss or reduce many tickets I have received. I highly recommend them to anyone I know and am thankful I always have them to consult for any issues I may have."
- H Lee.