Sunday, September 15, 2013

Corning Lawyer's Guide to Understanding New York State Traffic Tickets

 Many speeding tickets issued here in Upstate NY

I get calls regularly from those coming back from Canada or Buffalo or Rochester on I-17/86 or 390.
So you got a traffic ticket in Upstate New York. What now? Well you probably have lots of questions?? The purpose of this blog post is to answer and explain the most common ones.

First Question, what TYPE of ticket is it? 

Is it just a Traffic offense (non-criminal) OR a Criminal offense?

You will NEED a Lawyer for a criminal offense!

Second Question, Do you need to Physically Show up to Court? 

Again, is it a Criminal Charge?

You will NEED a Lawyer for a criminal offense!

The tickets, also called UTTs (Uniform Traffic Tickets) come in two distinct shapes:

the long skinny handwritten one, let's call it the "4 x 9"
the full page computer generated one, let's call it the "8.5 x 11"

State Police use the long form "8.5 x 11" and also give an additional page called "A Supporting Deposition." This is a sworn statement by the police. It states what they observed, or heard, or radar they used to determine speed level infraction.

To Determine: Traffic or Criminal: Look at the box which has one of three choices (levels) marked:

tr infrac (traffic infraction aka a violation: non-criminal offense)
misd (misdemeanor, first level of crime in NYS: criminal offense)
fel (felony, highest level of criminal offense in NYS)

If it is a Criminal Offense (like a 1212 Reckless Driving or a AUO Aggravated Unlicensed Operator) you will need to do TWO things: Get a Lawyer and Show Up to Court Physically.

Third Question, If it is NOT a criminal offense, are you pleading Guilty or Not Guilty?

btw You can also plead guilty with an explanation (that may possibly influence the fine)

To have the most legal rights you MUST send back your Plea choice back to the Court within 48 Hours of receiving the ticket. If you do not do this you will lose your right to request a Supporting Deposition, and have the ticket dismissed if this (the supporting dep) is not received back from the Court within 30 days of the Court receipt of this request. This is usually not an issue with State Trooper tickets as the state police give supporting depositions at roadside.

Fourth Question, If you plead guilty, first determine what pleading guilty will do to you? 

Will your license privileges (in NYS and elsewhere) be affected?
What fines, surcharges, and/or DMV assessments are you exposed to?

These are your first four basic questions. Get the answers to them as quickly as possible when dealing with a Upstate NY traffic ticket.

Larry Newman, D.C., Esq.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law


Three Things You Must Do When Handling Your Own Upstate Ticket

Why Can't I Get them on the Phone?
from the

I get phone calls daily from people who are frustrated with the legal system (really the Upstate Courts).
Many Courts are part-time, with part-time staff, part-time Judges, and minimal resources. This may mean that they have no email, no website, limited or no voicemail, and limited hours.

These frustrated souls tried to handle their own traffic tickets, and sometimes it was a bit harder than they realized. This blog post gives you the top three things you must do to assure and insure a better "pro se" (self representation) experience.

If you decide to handle your own traffic ticket in Upstate New York (or anything place else for that matter) YOU must do at a MINIMUM three basic things:

1. Make copies of everything you send to the Court.

I can't even tell you the number of people who call me with Court problems, and swear that they sent in pleas of guilt or innocence or a payment that was never received. They are now wondering why their driver's licenses' have been suspended. Sometimes they don't discover their suspension till many years later. Imagine getting arrested for AUO (aggravated unlicensed operation) because someone lost your paperwork or a check you sent in.

Everything truly means everything, this will include any letters, tickets, signed documents, checks, money orders, etc. Keep records of any correspondence with the Court in a separate file until you receive proof from the Court it was resolved.

2. Send everything into the Court R.R.R. (Return Receipt Requested).

You can choose to also send it certified or registered mail but be sure to send it RRR every time to insure it was received and signed for. Proof is not something to trifle with. If you can't prove it was received, then it wasn't.

3. Follow up, and follow through on all actions.

If you send in a NG (not guilty plea) or a guilty plea always CONFIRM all. Call them or fax them but make sure you get a name (of a clerk or a judge), and keep a log of what they said to you and/or about your case.

Lastly, Until you have paid a fine notice, or received back a letter stating it was all dismissed then the matter is still pending. Pending Court matters are like open wounds, they are not resolved until they are sealed. Pending Court matters if unresolved can result in a license suspension or a warrant being placed for your arrest, this will depend upon the nature (type) of charges.

Confirming closure always makes for a better night's sleep.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., Esq.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Perfect Storm: The New York Low BAC DWI

 Do want to take your boat out in this? from free

I love that Perfect Storm movie, the analogies to a great many things is simply uncanny. The concept, if enough things (external factors) come together we have a negative synergy beyond 1+ 1 + 1 = 3, more on the lines of like 1 + 1 + 1 = 100.  Call that the magnitude of the stars aligning in the worst of ways. This can work in the positive as well, but we love to understand how things got so bad from seeming a few innocuous factors.

So how does all of this relate to New York DWI?

I'm glad you asked, first off we are talking in terms of a first time offender with a Low BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level. This is the .08 or .09 case, where you are charged with both NY Common Law DWI (VTL 1192 (3) and DWI "per se" (VTL 1192 (2)


It could even be a .07 case where you are only charged with a NY common law (VTL 1192 (3)) DWI (NO BAC needed). You are probably thinking, well I'm so close to being NOTHING (no charges, no violation, NO DWI) I should get off completely? Makes sense right? But Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, close is not going to make it all vanish and I'm going to tell you WHY?

The Perfect Storm: The NY Low BAC DWI

1. No Jury will hear this type of case.

The DA (ADA: Assistant District Attorney) is going to drop the DWI right before trial. He will try you only on the DWAI, driving while ability impaired VTL 1192 (1). This now becomes a violation case. You only get a jury trial on misdemeanors or felonies NOT on violations. So a Judge will hear and decide your case. You will have a bench trial, the Judge is fact finder, law giver, and the ultimate decider. Watch out if he is pro-prosecution.

2. You now must overcome a Legal Presumption: .06 BAC or higher = Impaired.

With a breath or blood test of .06 BAC or more you are Pre-Sumed to be Legally Impaired by Alcohol unless you can prove otherwise. You are beginning with being guilty unless proven innocence.

We call this burden shifting. The Burden is usually on the prosecutor to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Because legally you are Innocent until Proven Guilty in all criminal cases, not so with this low BAC level DWAI case.

3. DWAI has a very low legal standard (jury/judge instruction)

While DWI (intoxication) = mental and physical incapacity to operate (drive) a car as a reasonably prudent driver, DWAI (impaired by alcohol) = any degree (extent) of impairment.

Add to all of that the costs (mental, emotional, money, time) of a trial, even a bench trial and the chances of success may be low. Of course, every case must be evaluated on it's own merits, I am generalizing here but so often people who desire the NOTHING (complete dismissal/not guilty) may have the worst of fact patterns.

Was your driving was terrible? Was your behavior outrageous? Was your physical and mental abilities questionable? Every little thing must be looked at.

DWIs usually ONLY have POLICE (law enforcement) WITNESSES

Because the police are the main witnesses, and they may not be as accurate and/or kind as you imagine them to be. Your version of the event and their version may be radically different. They may embellish (exaggerate) your problematic behavior. Let's not call it lying, let's just call it bias or a law enforcement filter.

Risk vs. Reward

All of this must be taken into consideration before discounting the DWAI plea offer. Getting nothing may be possible, is it realistic? is it doable? is it worth the cost of proceeding to trial? No one likes to lose, I take on fights I can win but if it's THE PERFECT STORM I think twice before taking out the boat?

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., ESQ.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Ithaca Lawyer The Dangers of Social Media and Your New York DWI Case

So easy to take and post stuff from

Twitter, Face book, Instagram, Pinterest, Stumble, etc., etc. My four kids (they are actually pretty big or old now) tell me to get with it. Hey dad, you SHOULD insert the verb "      " on FB, or whatever. I usually see their latest tattoo, car, or boyfriend/girlfriend, or party photo online before I hear from them. Too many places to follow or look IMO. I get more texts than calls or even emails. This is true not only from my kids but my clients as well. If you are facing a criminal charge that involves drugs and/or alcohol then I think you should be concerned about your social media.

The Dangers of Social Media 

First, what you put out there (online) is NOT yours. Personal does not equal private or secret. Even if it is "private," It is NOT private. It is owned and controlled by the site. If you read through their agreement, and they all have agreements, it says nothing is truly yours anymore. All of your stuff becomes truly public when posted. It's called "social" for a reason.

Second, it can be used or held against you at a later date. You want to hold yourself out as a responsible, sensible, mature, bright, and safe person in a civil or criminal Court, or with an insurance company, or with a DA (prosecutor)? Their investigation may reveal you in a different light? Remember many famous politicians, Olympians, athletes, and public figures have been taken down by online media. They will look at you online, some more than others, depending upon the severity (seriousness) of the case or the charges.

 Anyone you know? from

Pictures of them partying, smoking, drinking, drugging, and sexing in private and public have destroyed careers, marriages, and employment. A picture or two minute video can say a lot about you. Whether it is a true or accurate portrayal is another question entirely. If you are asking for leniency or credibility or money damages or anything else you need to show up with "clean hands." This is called "Laches" under the law.

Lastly, if you have a DWI or other criminal case, your arrest and charges are public. Your private behavior is now going to be a potential issue. Your private life is no longer private when it can affect other people negatively. If the Judge and/or the DA (District Attorney) in your case feel you are being dishonest about your drinking and/or drug use (abuse) they are now part of your life. As much as you may feel it is unfair for them to get into your personal life, if they see or feel you are moving in a bad direction (pattern) then they will feel that close supervision and monitoring (PROBATION) is in order.

Pictures and/or videos of your awesome weed (high THC content), bragging about your hangovers, your ability to hold bong hits and guzzle shots, or your showing up to school or work wasted is not going to paint you in a great light.

Think twice before posting anything online especially if you have any drug and/or alcohol charges pending.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., Esq.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law