Frequently Asked Questions

I just received a ticket for speeding, what should I do?

You should immediately plead not guilty, ask for a supporting deposition, and mail the ticket to the court. They will then respond in writing advising you of the date you have to appear for a pre-trial conference. They will also contact the police officer and request that he send you a supporting deposition. Although many police departments, today, have their officers provide a supporting deposition at the same time they write the ticket.

 

Before you do any of the above, I suggest you seriously consider hiring a lawyer to represent you. A lawyer can save you from having to take time off from work or school, as well as the time you will spend in court, which could be several hours of your time, in addition to travel time to court.

 

Why should I hire a lawyer?

If you are not comfortable in a court setting, talking to a prosecutor or a judge in front of a group of people, you should contact lawyer. If you have to take off from school or work, and that is going to be a problem for you, you should contact a lawyer. A lawyer can prepare a waiver of appearance which will excuse your appearance from the pre-trial conference and allow your lawyer to speak and act on your behalf.

 

Generally lawyers are going to discuss issues and problems about the prosecution of the case, so they can generally get a better deal than you can, if you act on your own behalf. But that is not always the case. In addition, sometimes a lawyer can get your case dismissed if he or she sees a basis for dismissal, such as facial insufficiency. Recognition of facial insufficiency is a skill that lawyers develop over a period of years practicing law. It simply means that there is something defective about the summons, the supporting deposition, or the procedure involved in providing a supporting deposition.

 

Why shouldn’t I just plead guilty and pay the fine?

There are a number of reasons you should not take that approach. First, all of the courts outside of New York City and Rochester, encourage plea bargaining. In New York City or Rochester you can expect that your case will generally go to trial, as plea bargaining is not usually an option. But dismissal is an option if the police officer does not show up. However these courts may give the officer more than one opportunity to appear, so it is possible you may have to appear in court on several occasion before the case is actually tried.

 

If you have to appear in New York City or Rochester you must be prepared to return to court on multiple occasions, as you or your attorney may not be able to plea bargain your case.

 

Of course, it is very easy to just plead guilty, pay the fine and surcharge. In addition to the cost factor, you will have the full points on your license.  There is a possibility your insurance premiums will be increased, as well.

 

And what are the consequences if you get another ticket after that? Naturally you will again pay a fine and surcharge, and have additional points on your license. And, again, you face the possibility of having your insurance premium increased.

 

And if that first or second ticket brings you to the six point mark, in the eighteen month window, you will also pay the driver responsibility assessment fee over a three year period.

 

We will discuss the point system, license suspension and revocation, the persistent violator letter, and the driver responsibility assessment fee below, which will shed more light on why you should not simply plead guilty.

 

What is the DMV point system?

It is a system the DMV uses to identify high risk drivers. Each violation is assigned a specific number of points. For example with speeding tickets, the more miles per hour you are going over the speed limit, the more points you will accrue if you are convicted of speeding at that speed. If you are convicted of speeding 21 to 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, you will accrue six points, for which you will be penalized by the driver responsibility assessment fee. If you are convicted of speeding more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit, you will be accrue eleven points, and your license will be suspended.

 

Tell Me about the New Regulations?

Under regulations adopted in 2012, if you are convicted of any violation that accrues 5 or more points, the DMV runs a lifetime lookback on your license to review your driving history. If nothing shows up on that review, your file is closed. But if you have five DWIs in your lifetime, you will face lifetime revocation of your license. If you have three DWIs and two serious driving offenses in the past twenty five years, you will face lifetime revocation of your license.

 

Also you should know that speeding 21 to 30 miles per hour over the speed limit is a six point violation, reckless driving is a five point offense (it is also a crime, an unclassified misdemeanor), failing to stop for a school bus is a five point offense, railroad crossing violation is a five point offense, improper cell phone use and texting are also five point offenses.

 

What is the significance of five points, six points, eleven points or three speeding tickets in eighteen months?

A single five point ticket will trigger the lifetime lookback at your driving history.

 

When you accrue six points on your license, you will be assessed with the driver’s responsibility assessment fee. That fee is $300 payable over three years. For each additional point you will be assessed an additional $75.00. So, if you accrue 9 points, you will be assessed a fee of $525 payable over 3 years. For each additional point, you will be assessed an additional $25. So, if you accrue 9 points, you will be assessed a fee of $375 payable over the course of three years. But you can pay it all at once to eliminate future payments.

 

The DMV uses the violation date as the significant point in time, not the conviction date. So when we are talking about the eighteen month window, from point to point, we are talking about the violation dates, not the conviction dates.

 

If you accrue eleven points in that eighteen month window, you will receive a persistent violator letter and your license will be suspended.

 

If you are convicted of three speeding tickets in eighteen months, your license will be revoked. Section 510 of the VTL mandates license revocation for conviction of a third speeding violation within eighteen months.

 

What is the difference between suspension and revocation of your license?

Revocation is worse than suspension.

 

With a suspension, your license or privilege to drive is taken away for a period of time before it is returned. After your suspension period is over, you simply pay a fee and your license will be reinstated.

 

But revocation, on the other hand, means you must start all over again, as if you were a first time licensee. Your license is actually cancelled and you must get a new one when the revocation period ends.

 

If I hire you, what is your procedure?

Generally, after you retain me, I will send a letter to the court advising them that I represent you, enter a not guilty plea, and request a supporting deposition and a copy of the summons. The court will then send a request for a supporting deposition to the police officer. But you must contact me immediately after you receive the ticket for all that to happen! So you should call me right after you receive a ticket.

 

Initially, I will prepare a retainer agreement and a waiver of appearance, and send them to you for your signature. The waiver of appearance must be signed by you and notarized.

 

After I have received the retainer agreement, waiver of appearance, your driving record abstract, my legal fee and a copy of the summons and supporting deposition, I will review the ticket and supporting deposition to determine if there is a basis for dismissal based on legal insufficiency.  I will then, usually, write a letter to the prosecutor and provide the prosecutor with a copy of your driving record abstract, the summons and supporting deposition. That letter will be followed by a phone call to the prosecutor to discuss the case.

 

Again, you must contact me as soon as you receive the ticket for me to do my job, as described above.

 

If I find a basis for dismissal I will either make a written motion for dismissal or an oral motion when I appear in court for the pre-trial conference.

 

Generally, my next step is an appearance in court for the pre-trial conference where I will attempt to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor or make a motion to the court for dismissal of the summons based on legal insufficiency, if there are grounds. However, some courts allow attorneys to negotiate plea bargains with the prosecutor by mail.

 

How does the Point and Insurance Reduction Program work?

This program is also known as the Defensive Driving Course or Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course. This course, offered by private entities online is not expensive, generally. It will reduce as many as four points from your license. You will receive a minimum 10% reduction on your motor vehicle liability and collision insurance premiums for a three year period.

 

This course may only be taken once every eighteen months.

 

The course does not remove, delete, subtract or erase any conviction or violation, or any notice of original points from your license. Even after completing the course, the convictions will still appear on your driving record for up to four years. The point reduction essentially means that the DMV will not count, up to four points, towards any suspension or revocation of your license.

 

The point reduction only applies to points that accrued during the eighteen month period immediately before the course completion. If your license has already been revoked or suspended, or a violation hearing is already scheduled, the point reduction will not affect that action.

 

Some license revocations and suspensions are mandatory and do not depend on points. These include three speeding violations within 18 months, and convictions involving alcohol or drugs.

 

The PIRP also cannot reduce or eliminate points for purposes of driver responsibility assessment fees.

 

What is a Restricted Use License?

A restricted use license is issued to drivers who qualify and whose license was suspended or revoked because of violations or incidents that are not alcohol or drug related. A person holding a restricted use license may only drive to and from work, or for employment purposes, generally; to and from an accredited school, university or state approved institution (not high school), to and from the DMV; to and from a medical examination or treatment for yourself or members of your household; and for child care purposes.

 

What is a Conditional License?

Conditional use licenses are issued to qualified drivers whose license has been suspended or revoked because of an alcohol or drug related violation. But these drivers must attend an Impaired Driver Program (previously known as the Drinking Driver Program).

 

What is the Negative Unit System?

The negative unit system, which is a hidden point system, only applies if your license is revoked. This system may extend the length of time for your revocation because you have a bad driving record. It is measured in units and drivers with 25 units, or so, are in jeopardy of extending the length of their revocation. Under this system a 6 month revocation may turn into a two year revocation.

 

How long do convictions stay on the license?

Convictions, in general, stay on your record for the remainder of the calendar year, plus three years. So if you are convicted in January of a violation, the conviction will remain on your license for almost four years.

 

Convictions for Driving while intoxicated (DWI) by alcohol or drugs stay on the record for fifteen years. And driving while ability impaired (DWAI) convictions remain on the record for ten years.

 

Are the laws different for junior licensees?

For junior licensees (16 to 18 year old) the rules are more stringent. They will face a sixty day suspension for a serious traffic violation (for example, a speeding ticket) or two other violations. If they have another violation within six months, they will face a sixty day revocation. And junior licensees will face a 120 day suspension for cell phone or texting violations, which are five point violations.

 

What Type of payment do you accept?

Payment can be made by PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, check or cash. Payment must be made and cleared before the scheduled court date. We do not commence work until payment is made.

 

This information is not intended to be legal advice. It is merely general information. Each individual should contact an attorney directly to obtain legal advice.