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7 Things Your Traffic Ticket Does Not Tell You

by Seth Azria on 8/09/2019

Information that NY Traffic Tickets do not tell youWe represent many drivers licensed outside New York State. Some have mentioned that, unlike their home state, the NY ticket does not disclose how much the fine will be, how many points a 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 reading a New York Uniform Traffic Ticket.

1) How Many Points is My Ticket?

Points attach as a matter of law for each given conviction, even though there is no mention of points on the ticket or in correspondence from the court.

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

Speeding

  •  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 section 5 below)
  • 31-40 over posted limit - 8 points (plus a Driver Responsibility Assessment)
  • Over 40 over posted limit - 11 points ( Plus license suspension and Driver Responsibility Assessment)

For more information about points for other offenses: New York Points for Speeding Tickets and Infractions. For detailed information about fines for all types of speeding tickets

Cell Phone Use

Either use of portable electronic device (VTL §1225d)  or actual cell phone use (VTL §1225c2a):

  • 5 points and the fine range is $50-$200 plus a $93 surcharge. 

To be ticketed for use of a portable electronic device, you only have to be holding something that looks like an electronic device. 

For a discussion on cell phone tickets: Distracted Driving: What All Drivers Need to Know

2) How Much is the Fine for My Ticket?

All traffic convictions have a fine determined by a judge. 

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 actual amount of the fine after a conviction, be it by trial or guilty plea. Because of this, it is impossible to include the fine amount on the face of the ticket.

In addition to a fine, a conviction for speeding 11 mph or more over the posted limit has jail time as a part of a possible sentence. While this is indeed an intimidating prospect, in our experience, we have only heard of some judges who sentence a few days in jail for high speed tickets.

For detailed information about the fines for all types of speeding tickets: Court Assessed Fines for NY Speeding Convictions

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 keep 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 create a record for the driver and report the conviction to the driver’s home state if that state is part of the interstate agreement called the Driver License Compact. Most all states participate in the Compact. 

Each state handles a report of an out-of-state convictions differently, but they tend to fall into three general categories:

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 would be 4 points in New York. In Ontario, the conviction will be for about 26 km/h over the limit, after 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 an  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. New Jersey Drivers: Impact of New York Convictions.

c. Doesn’t Add Points to Home Record

The third general category of states do not add points to drivers home state record from out-of-state traffic  convictions. New York and Pennsylvania both handle it this way. Pennsylvania Driver: Impact of New York Traffic Convictions

For more information, see our posts on US states and Canadian provinces handle New York traffic convictions, if you don’t see your state listed, 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 one 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 on your record. But we will be able to help you minimize any potential impact by reducing the charge to lowest level possible. Presumably, a less serious conviction should garner less negative attention from your insurance carrier.

I mentioned above that certain states may record only a 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 those convictions. 

For example, a state like Pennsylvania will not add points or convictions from a New York conviction. But Pennsylvania will know about the conviction, via the Driver License Compact, and therefore the driver’s insurance company may learn of it.

Our advice is to assume that your insurance company will learn of all convictions and therefore it is important to minimize all tickets. 

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

Yes there is.

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

DRAs apply 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 then 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 limit is 6 points and will expose 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 a conviction. Can you help if I already pleaded guilty to my traffic ticket? Yes, sometimes we can. 

6) It’s Been a Week Since I was Ticketed, Can I still Plead Not Guilty?

Yes, you may, and you should.

Section B of the ticket indicates that you must mail a not guilty plea within 48 hours. If you haven’t done anything with your ticket within 48 hours, you may still plead not guilty.  I have never, in thousands of cases, had a court or judge, deny a not guilty plea made after 48 hours.  

The relevant date for your reply is listed on the left side of the ticket under the court information. 

7) Can I Plead Guilty, Write an Explanation on the Ticket, and 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 include arguments for their innocence, ask for a reduction, or ask the judge to reduce points. None of those things will happen. The judge does not 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. 

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

Need help with your ticket?

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