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7 Things Your Traffic Ticket Does Not Tell You

by Seth Azria on 8/21/2019

We help many drivers licensed outside New York State. Many out-of-staters call mention that, unlike their home state, the NY ticket does not state how much the fine will be, how many points the conviction will be, or any other consequences of pleading guilty.

Prompted by our out-of-state clients, here are answers to 7 questions that are not answered by looking at the ticket.

1) How Many Points is My Ticket?

Points attach as a matter of law for each conviction, even though you will not see any mention to them on the ticket or even in court.

The most common tickets are issued for speeding and cell phone use, here are the points and other consequences of convictions for those tickets.

The points, in New York, for speeding convictions are:

  • 0-10 over posted limit - 3 points
  • 11-20 over posted limit - 4 points
  • 21-30 over posted limit - 6 points (plus a Driver Responsibility Assessment, see below)
  • 31-40 over posted limit - 8 points (plus a Driver Responsibility Assessment, see below)
  • Over 40 over posted limit - 11 points ( Plus license suspension and Driver Responsibility Assessment)

For more information about points for other offenses, please see this post.

Cell phone use tickets, either use of portable electronic device or actual cell phone use, are 5 points and the fine range is $50-$200 plus a $93 surcharge. Did you know that to be ticketed for cell phone use, you only have to be holding something that looks like an electronic device? For a discussion on cell phone tickets please see this post.

2) How Much is the Fine for My Ticket?

The judge will decide upon a guilty plea or a conviction at trial.

All traffic convictions come with a fine imposed by the court. These fines are quoted in ranges, for example, $90-300 for a speeding conviction 11-30 mph over the posted limit.  The judge will determine the amount of the fine upon conviction, be it by trial or plea.Therefore it is impossible to list the amount of the fine on the face of the ticket.

In addition to a fine, a conviction for speeding 11 mph over the posted and more carries jail time as a part of a possible sentence. In our experience, jail time is rare but there are judges who will sentence a few days jail for high speed tickets.

For detailed information about the fines for all types of speeding tickets please see this post.

3) Will this Ticket Matter in My Home State?

There is a good chance it will.

For all traffic convictions with points, the New York DMV will make a record. For New York drivers, the conviction will be added to your New York record. For out-of-state drivers, the New York DMV will make a record for the driver and report the conviction to the driver’s home state, for member states of the information sharing agreement called the Driver  License Compact.

Each state handles out-of-state convictions differently but they tend to fall into three general categories as described below

a. As If it Happened There

Some states/provinces will add the conviction to the driver’s record as if it happened in the home state/province. Quebec and Ontario handle it this way. For example, pleading guilty to a speeding ticket charged as 81 mph in a 65 mph will be 4 points in New York. In Ontario, the conviction will be for about 26 km/h, after the converting 16 mph to km/h, which would be 3 demerit points on an Ontario record.

b. A Fixed Number of Points

Other states will add a fixed number of points in the home state for a  out-of-state conviction regardless of the point total in New York. New Jersey handles it this way and will assign a maximum of 2 points for out of state convictions. So a 4 point speeding ticket in New York would likely convert to 2 points in New Jersey.

c. Doesn’t Add Points to Home Record

The third category of states does not add points to drivers home state record from out of state convictions. New York and Pennsylvania both handle it this way.

We have posts for how states handle this, if you don’t see your state in the list, please call and we will find out for you.  

4) What Will Happen to Insurance Premiums Because of This Ticket?

This is up to your insurance company.

Insurance premium increases are a primary concern for most drivers, and rightfully so. An increase in insurance rates can last for years and far exceed the on time expense of a lawyer or fine.   

An attorney will not be able to advise you directly about the reaction your insurance company may have to a conviction your record. But we will be able to help you minimize any potential impact by reducing the charge to lowest level possible. A less serious conviction should garner less negative attention from your insurance carrier.

I mentioned above that certain states may record only certain number of points or none at all on your home record. This does not mean that your insurance company will be unable to discover the conviction. For example, a state like Pennsylvania will not add points or convictions to one of their drivers from a New York conviction. But Pennsylvania will know about the conviction, via the driver’s license compact, and therefore the driver’s insurance company may learn of it.

Our advice is to assume that insurance company will learn of all convictions and secure the largest reduction or dismissal possible. .

5) Is There Anything Else I Have to Worry About?

Yes there is.

A fine from the court is not the only monetary penalty from convictions in New York. As mentioned above, your ticket, if it carries 6 points or more, or a combination of convictions on your record, add up to 6 points or more in any 18 month period, you will earn yourself a Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA).

DRAs applies to all drivers on New York roads. Even if you have an out-of-state license, you will be required to pay. Failure to pay, will result in suspension of your privilege to drive in New York State and that suspension may also cause to your home state/province to suspend you.  

For 6 points the assessment will be $300 and an additional $75 per point over 6 points.  We often get calls from people who have pleaded guilty to 86 mph in a 65 mph. 21 mph over the does not seem to bad to many but it is 6 points in NY and exposes the driver to a max fine from the court of $300, a $93 surcharge, and a $300 DRA. These callers typically want to know if we can reverse the conviction. Sometimes we can, click here for more information about reversing a guilty plea.

6) It’s Been a Week Since I Got My Ticket, Can I still Plead Not Guilty?

Yes, you may and you should.

Section B of the ticket indicates that you should mail a not guilty plea within 48 hours. If you haven’t done anything with your ticket within 48 hours, you still have the right to plead not guilty.

The relevant date for your reply is listed on the left side of the ticket under the court information. When you hire an attorney, the attorney will, or at least our attorneys will, enter the not guilty for you.

7) Can I Plead Guilty, Write an Explanation on the Ticket Get Reduced Points or a Dismissal?

No, that will not work.

There are a couple of lines on the traffic ticket under Section A for an optional statement of explanation. I have seen drivers write reasons related to their innocence, or asking for a reduction, or for the judge to reduce points. None of those things will happen. The judge does reduce or alter charges, that is prosecutor's job.

Completing “Section A - Plea of Guilty” is a conviction, just like losing at trial, and the judge will impose a fine within the prescribed range as discussed above. New York law also determines the number of points that will attach with that conviction. The Judge has no authority to adjust or waive points associated with a conviction. Neither the papers from the court nor the ticket will mention the number of points associated with a conviction.

The only possible effect of an explanation is that the judge might take pity on you and give you a fine lower than maximum, or maybe not.

A Final Note: Just Call, It’s Always Free

Please don’t ever plead guilty to anything without contacting a lawyer first.  Our firm, and most traffic lawyers, provide free consultations so there is no reason not to call.

The fact that New York fails to advise you of the consequences of a guilty plea on the face of the ticket makes it imperative that you seek professional advice. We welcome your calls or emails anytime.







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