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 that handles traffic tickets issued in:
- The five boroughs of New York City
- The city of Rochester
The most significant things to note about the TVB are:
- There is no plea bargaining. For each violation, a judge will find you either
not guilty (no points, no fine) or guilty (points if applicable and fine).
There will be no reduction of a charge or other negotiation.
- Failure to respond on time to a ticket or appear in court can quickly result in the suspension of your license or even an automatic guilty finding by default.
Due to the fact that there are no reductions or plea bargains at the TVB, the only way to challenge a ticket is to have a trial (hearing). The police officer serves as Prosecutor—the District Attorney is not involved with these administrative hearings.
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 few other 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 may issue a warrant for your arrest.
The most significant things to note about the local courts are:
- Negotiation (plea bargaining) is an option. In most cases we can get prosecutors to agree to a deal which can significantly reduce the fine, surcharges, points, driver assessment fees, and potential insurance increases. A trial or hearing is only necessary when negotiation has failed for one reason or another.
- Failure to respond on time to a ticket or appear in court can quickly result in the suspension of your license.
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.
What Makes Village Courts Different?
In the state of New York, smaller courts in villages are typically called “village court.” These courts are the same as justice courts, and they are where drivers go to fight traffic tickets.
Justices and court clerks in village courts receive their training from OCA, but there is still variability in how each judge handles cases. In some villages, a ticket will be dismissed if the issuing officer does not appear to give testimony. In other villages, the case is adjourned to give the officer a second chance to appear.
In some village courts, police are granted the right to prosecute their own tickets. In others, it is an attorney acting as prosecutor. In still other courts, State Troopers and Deputies are permitted to prosecute their own tickets, but an attorney will prosecute tickets written by local police officers.
Larger village courts often have heavy caseloads. In these instances, it can take hours for a case to be heard and decided upon. Smaller villages have such a light caseload that they may only meet once a month. If a misdemeanor occurs in a village, it is also heard in the village court.
In many states, court systems tend to be the same as you move from city to city. New York is the exception to this rule, having no stringent set of guidelines on how village courts must operate. Those appearing in village court should not assume that they will have the same experience from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
In the state of New York, NCTPVA is an acronym for the Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. The stated mission of this organization is to “maintain and enhance” pedestrian and vehicular safety. The agency aims to accomplish this through education and adjudication of traffic and parking violations. Unless otherwise noted, a person issued a citation or notice is to appear in court at 9:00 a.m.
Violations heard by the Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency include speed in zone, stop signs, running red lights, passing school buses, and cellphone tickets. The NCTPVA is located in Nassau County, New York at 16 Cooper Street in Hempstead.
It is important to note that any New York traffic ticket can carry fines, points and surcharges. Certain violations may also incur revocations and suspensions. Those convicted of a traffic violation may be subject to auto insurance rate increases. Those who are charged and required to appear in NCTPVA are encouraged to contact a legal representative before entering any type of plea.
Any driver who decides to pay the citation, can do so via certified check, personal check, money order, cash or credit card. Anyone who pays late and does not appear in court is subject to additional penalties and monetary charges. Payments can also be made by phone using a credit card. The phone number is 516-572-2389 and it is staffed during the week between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Posting a Bond
Regarding traffic violations at the Traffic Violations Bureau, many individuals are asked to post a $40 cash bond when asking for an additional adjournment of a case or if a hearing date has been previously missed. It is in the discretion of the judge whether to ask for and/or allow the posting of a bond. This is a deposit that is returned at the conclusion of the case.
More typically, people think of bonds in the context of criminal matters. In the state of New York, a person has the right to secure a bail or bail bonds in order to be released from custody. Bonds are typically issued directly after an arrest.
New York authorizes the following forms of bail:
- Secured surety
- Secured appearance
- Partially secured surety
- Partially secured appearance
- Unsecured surety
- Unsecured appearance
- Credit card
To be legally binding in the state of New York, a bail bond must state the name, address and occupation of each obligor, the title of the criminal charge and the offenses which are involved. The bail bond must also name the principal and the nature of that person’s involvement in the action or proceeding.
A bail bond is in effect until all criminal proceedings have been completed. This means that the principal, or person accused of committing the crime, must adhere to all rulings and orders issued by the court. Should the person not appear for a court date or fails to follow a judge’s orders, the entirety of the bail becomes due and the bond is forfeited.
Posting a bond is often done with the assistance of a bail bondsman who is licensed to work within the state. The bonds person may have additional stipulations for posting a person’s bail. The bonds person should make these stipulations clear before any money is exchanged. A list of bonds persons legally able to conduct business in the state of New York can be found online or by contacting the local courthouse.
In the state of New York, Article 78 is a proceeding that gives someone convicted of an act at an administrative hearing to be heard in front of the Supreme Court of the County. This is relevant with respect to NYC traffic tickets answerable to the NYS Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB). The TVB is an administrative agency. If you are found guilty at a TVB hearing and then appeal to the TVB Appeals Board and lose the appeal as well, you will be considered to have “exhausted your administrative remedies”. Once the TVB procedures are followed to their end, a person has the option of filing a case in the actual (not administrative) court system. This is called an Article 78and here are certain questions that can be raised in an Article 78 hearing.
- If the officer or body failed to perform a duty under the law;
- If the officer or body proceeded, is proceeding or will proceed in excess of jurisdiction;
- If a determination was made in violation of the law, was affected by an error of law or was an abuse of discretion; or
- If a determination made as “a result of a hearing held, and at which evidence was taken, pursuant to direction by law is, on the entire record, supported by substantial evidence.”
Under Article 78, “body or officer” means a court, tribunal, corporation, board, officer, aggregation of persons, or any other person whose actions could be affected by a proceeding held under the article.
Once it has heard the case, the Supreme Court has several options. It may stay any further proceedings or payment of costs. The court of appeals is the only court that can stay an order issued under Article 78.
Additionally, the judgment may dismiss the proceeding with leave to renew or on the merits. The judgment may confirm or annul the original determination in part or whole or modify it. The judgment may also prohibit specified action by the respondent.
Filing Article 78 is best done with the assistance of a qualified attorney.
Pleading Not Guilty to Your Ticket
In the state of New York, a not guilty plea means that a person accused of a crime or violation is claiming to not have committed that infraction. A plea is entered during an initial arraignment before a judge or at a later time as specified by the court.
There are three choices of plea in the New York court system. These pleas are guilty, not guilty and no contest. One may also be able to argue that they are incompetent to stand trial or that they are not guilty by reason of insanity. The latter are difficult to prove and require the assistance of an attorney.
Pleading not guilty in most instances gives an accused person time to gather evidence and mount a defense against their charges. Unfortunately, a not guilty plea also extends the length of time one will spend in the “system.” When a not guilty plea is entered during arraignment, further court dates are set.
Depending on the charges, a not guilty plea may result in a pre-trial, depositions or other court appearances. This plea may result in a settlement offer on behalf of prosecutors, but it could also mean a lengthy court battle. It is generally recommended that a person accused of a criminal act consult with an attorney before making any statements, including a plea, in court before a judge.
A person may be found “not guilty” by a court of law. This does not technically mean that the person did not commit the crime they were accused of. Instead, it means that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond the required legal standard.
FREE CASE EVALUATION
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.
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.
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.
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.