Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cortland Elmira Lawyer Why New York Traffic Tickets Tell You Nada

One of the questions I have to frequently answer as an Upstate Attorney is:

Why is that New York traffic tickets (UTTs/Uniform Traffic Tickets) don't tell you how to pay?

They don't tell you what to pay? Basically (the tickets) give very little in the way of direction on what to do next. Only check off a box, guilty or not guilty? do you want a supporting deposition? What if I plead guilty? then what? Questions only lead to more questions.

Who do I pay? Where do I pay? Maybe even, can I just pay this? People (let's call them violators) just want to be done, they just want to put it behind them.

I guess in comparison with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or even Florida where the tickets have very specific itemized amounts to pay in fines and/or clear cut options (traffic school/diversion) our tickets are antiquated. Much like our system of little village, town, and city courts with night hours, afternoon hours, and non-lawyer judges New York tickets are caught in a time warp.

Bottom Line: You don't know from looking at the ticket, what it will cost or how many points will be assessed. Try calling the Court looking for answers and you may be in for another surprise, these are mostly part-time courts with part-time staff (clerks) and they are rarely there. Some have machines (answering machines) where you cannot leave a message. Some have office hours two or three hours a week. As in please call back between the hours of 10 and 12 on the third Tuesday. I kid you not.

More important things to know:

FIRST: New York courts have wide ranges of punishments for most offenses, including traffic violations.

Ticket fines can range from $ 0 to hundreds of dollars. It is completely in the Judge's discretionary powers.

SECOND: New York courts will potentially assess: points for each ticket, fines for each ticket, a NYS surcharge per ticket, and maybe even a three year NYS DMV surcharge per the points.

THIRD: Even if you get a plea bargain (plea offer) from a District Attorney's office the Judge can choose to accept or reject it entirely or in part. Again this is in their discretion as Justices.

 Caveat Violator in treading these waters. You can always do it alone or you can hire a seasoned navigator familiar with these changing seas. The choice is always yours.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

Practice focused on traffic, DWI, and criminal defense within the Finger Lakes area of NYS.