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As a former State Trooper, unlike most attorneys, I have written thousands of speeding and moving violation tickets. Negotiating a plea or defending a traffic ticket at trial is second nature to me, given my overall background and experience writing them. I have been involved in many traffic defense trials. I know the proverbial “ins and outs,” both from a substantive perspective as well as that involving key areas of the “charging documents” as governed by the Criminal Procedure Law. Outside of the normal, rote, material areas the officer typically testifies (e.g., jurisdiction, roadway, vehicle, speed, person, etc.) I invariably can identify and probe other core influences in the stop at trial. Whether negotiating a plea for you or preparing to go to trial, my knowledge, experience and insight in this area enables me to do so from a position of strength.
The background and training is there. I received and successfully completed significant specialized training at the New York State Police Academy in the area of radar and its proper function. Of course, training included instructional hours on how Doppler radar works; the unit’s antenna (dual) and the signal(s) and band it emits (“X” band or “Ka” band, etc.); instruction on testing the radar unit before use, how the vehicle’s speed is calculated by the unit, and field training involving the unit as well as mastering visual estimates. I received similar specialized training in the area of the Breathalyzer instrument and was re-certified regularly in both the Breathalyzer and radar throughout the initial parts of my 20 plus year law enforcement career.
My law enforcement experience is not common amongst lawyers. Most attorneys don’t have the experience of making an actual traffic or motor vehicle stop, let alone writing a traffic ticket. Few attorneys were police officers; and fewer still were state troopers. I believe my police background, depending on the circumstances, can provide an edge. The insight and experience of assessing a vehicle and its occupants before pulling it over, making the initial decision to pursue; the processes of pulling it over at a designated safe location and, before exiting the cruiser, the areas undertaken before approaching the vehicle and what that entails; followed ultimately by the communication and “interaction” with the driver and vehicle occupants, comprise additional intangibles integral to preparing a defense in terms of considering and discerning available strategies. The events occurring outside and beyond the material facts written on the ticket can add perspective. Each traffic stop is unique. I cull the particulars and all details from my client and work backwards to view it from the officer’s perspective. Factual areas on occasion exist that I can use to my client’s advantage; or areas to exploit given my experience and knowledge in this area.
I have worked in many areas of New York State – from New York City to Buffalo (and several cities and counties in between.) My experience in developing and working all levels and degrees of cases; from traffic tickets to homicide – accords added perspective. I have been an admitted attorney in New York State for 15 years and have significant experience and knowledge of the courts and Criminal Justice system overall. I incorporate this high level of knowledge, experience and insight into my criminal defense practice. This significantly benefits my clients; and individuals I represent.
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (www.dmv.ny.gov)
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the governing agency that dictates and assigns the number of points to a particular or specific moving violation section under the state Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL). Not all VTL violations are assessed points by DMV.
DMV has an interest in monitoring “high risk” drivers and:
- May suspend your driver’s license if you accrue 11 points within an 18 month period
- Can impose a Driver’s Responsibility Assessment fine annually if you accrue 6 points in 18 months
- The Driver’s Responsibility Assessment fine is $100 each year for 3 years – total $300
You must be convicted of a traffic ticket to be assessed points. The number of corresponding points depends on the VTL section violated and what you are convicted (often one can plea bargain to lower points in a different VTL section.) Please see the points-related chart from the DMV website (below). The points assigned to a particular V & T Law section may change; consult DMV, its website, or a traffic defense attorney for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
DMV monitors high-risk drivers by the referenced points system. Points are calculated as of the date of the violation, NOT the date of conviction. You can read more about DMV’s point system and other areas concerning your driver’s license pursuant to the above DMV website. The current points allocation and corresponding charges are chronicled at the bottom of this page.
Source: NYS Department of Motor Vehicle website.
Are Moving Violations From Another State Counted as Points in NY?
One important recurring question I am asked is whether moving violation tickets received in other states “count” as points in New York State. The answer is generally NO, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF moving violation tickets a New York State motorist received in Canada in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. DMV has entered into a reciprocal agreement with Canada and, thus, moving violations received in the referenced (Canadian) provinces will count as points accrued on your New York State driver’s license.
Insurance companies follow their own rules and protocols concerning moving violations or points. For example, the length of time points stay on one’s license may be calculated differently by insurance companies (longer) than the 18 month period DMV uses. . (Note: this DMV 18 month calculation concerns the accrual of points. The actual violation may remain visual on one’s driver’s abstract for longer, up to 3 years.) Consult with your insurance company to learn the particulars and protocols they follow. Remember, your insurance company may raise your premiums if you are convicted of a moving violation. The state Department of Motor Vehicles defines what number of point, are assigned to a given moving violation and the time frame in which points remain on your driver’s abstract or record.
Number of points assigned for common traffic violations (See New York State DMV website: www.dmv.ny.gov)
** - Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Website
Traffic Courts and Traffic Violations Bureau
For information about the court system statewide, traffic ticket trials generally follow a similar evidentiary path under the Criminal Procedure Law as do higher degree crimes (e.g., misdemeanor or felony). The rules are basically the same. In a traffic court trial however, the client (they would term s/he the “Defendant”) is NOT entitled to a trial before a jury; rather, she/he is entitled to be heard before a judge. This is called a “bench trial.” The state or government has the burden of going forward, as well as the burden of proof. The legal standard at trial for the state to win is Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Most tickets bring a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail (this does not include misdemeanor level tickets.)
Traffic Violations Bureau – An Arm of the state Department of Motor Vehicles
The 5 boroughs of New York City, a few townships in Suffolk County, and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester have special adjudication courts that are not true courts. Rather, they are an administrative arm of the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The trials are overseen by an administrative law judge, not a “real” judge as in other courts throughout the state. There is NO plea bargaining allowed in these adjudication courts; your only option is to plead guilty or request a trial. In this administrative forum, the rules of evidence are far more relaxed; hearsay is typically allowed and the standard of proof is lower, making it easier for the government to win. The standard is by Clear and Convincing evidence, a lower burden to prevail than the customary Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
Finally, in n these special administrative courts you are NOT entitled to a Supporting Deposition, which is a mainstay or foundational document the CPL requires the officer to produce that amplifies the charges against you. A Supporting Deposition is customarily required within 30 days of its request or 5 days before trial, whichever comes sooner. Supporting Depositions are not a part of the referenced administrative courts (Note: Today, tickets are largely printed by a portable printer within the officer’s cruiser after he swipes your driver’s license in a machine that is similar to a credit card holder. The Supporting Deposition is often issued these days when the ticket is presented; officers do not typically wait for it to be formally requested in writing by the motorist.)
Call me, send me your ticket and receive a complimentary case assessment!
Special Note on DWI
A Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or DUI) or related arrest (e.g., Driving with more than .08% Blood Alcohol Concentration) constitutes a crime in New York State. A crime, by basic definition in New York, is a misdemeanor or felony. If you are convicted of the first DWI – convicted not merely arrested – a second conviction within 10 years for DWI will constitute a Felony. If you get arrested out of state for the equivalent of DWI, the subsequent conviction may count as could have the same force as if you were convicted in this state. Thus, if the out of state arrest followed a prior DWI conviction in NY, you would be charged as if it occurred here. Thus, you may be charged with a felony even if the conviction occurs out of state.
Potential Collateral Consequences of a DWI Conviction (Travel; Professional licenses)
One area to remain mindful of is the collateral consequences of a conviction for a crime.
Advise your attorney of any professional licenses you hold, irrespective of whether you are currently using it. If you are convicted of DWI, that is a crime. One of the collateral consequences of a conviction for a crime would include your being denied entry into certain countries. Canada regularly, for example, turns away visitors at their border who have a DWI conviction (Note: in some instances Canada may turn away someone with an arrest. Special arrangements to cross the border should be made beforehand).
Similarly, if you hold a professional license such as a nurse, physician; real estate broker, teacher, security guard, etc., and are convicted of a DWI or other crime, there may be certain reporting requirements to the state entity or body that issues or oversees your license. Depending on the circumstances of your charge and whether or not you are convicted of the crime, your professional license may be in jeopardy. With information about your license, your attorney may be able to fashion a strategy or arrangement with the prosecutor to save your license, as well as one with the state entity that governs or controls it.
Consult with your state or licensing body for more information.
Note: A second conviction (not a mere arrest) for DWI within New York State is a felony. It, therefore, becomes critical in the charging phase for the officer to determine whether the first DWI arrest resulted in a reduction or a conviction that is equivalent to the New York charge and will be honored in this state.