New York is different, it always has been and unfortunately for better or for worse it will remain. We do have three different levels of offenses. Felony and misdemeanor are called crimes, and violations which are considered NON criminal but NYS treats them for all intents and purposes as "criminal" offenses.
Maybe NYS violations are not "classified" as criminal or called "criminal" but they have many things that make them feel CRIMINAL because of all the following:
1. New York State uses New York Criminal Procedure code when prosecuting violations.
New York requires violations to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is true even for traffic offenses, like speeding tickets. New York doesn't delegate these violations to an administrative level. Administrative treatment has a lower civil standard, merely fines, license suspensions, and NO jail.
Administrative (civil) sanctions can include property punishment, a license is property and has a lower standard of proof. Administrative proof is clear and convincing evidence or substantial evidence. This standard is just a little more than "more likely than not" proof.
2. New York can give jail time on NON criminal violations.
Things like Harassment in the second degree (a violation), Disorderly Conduct (a violation), or a Speeding ticket can be punished with a term of fifteen days in the county jail. Offenses that are against the Public Order are punished with jail time. This shows that the NYS statutes see that conduct against the public are considered sanctionable (punishable) by jail. Punishment against your liberty is a clear sign of a criminal scheme and philosophy.
3. Other Neighboring States are vastly different in offense classification and their punishment.
In Connecticut, all their violations result in ONLY fines. Economic sanctions show a distinction of how non criminal behavior is punished. States like Vermont don't even have violations, only misdemeanors and felonies. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have what are called Summary Offenses.
Contrasting between neighboring jurisdictions creates even more confusion. There are no real equivalents from state to state even with DUI or DWI. In New Jersey the first two DUI level offenses are NON criminal. DUIs in New Jersey don't even amount to a criminal DUI until the 3rd one. In New York a second DWI within 10 years is a FELONY level offense.