Most of us have been exposed to the anxiety caused by receiving a traffic ticket. When we are young, we tend to face these issues more often, perhaps because we are more daring in the early stages of our lives or we have less patience. When our children or grandchildren receive a ticket, it still causes us concern.
So, a little knowledge about the Point System, rules and penalties at the Department of Motor Vehicles may be beneficial to help understand DMV practice. Knowledge of a process can help reduce the anxiety caused by the unknown and may well act as a deterrent.
The Point System is a numerical system designed to identify certain high-risk drivers. The DMV assigns points for each violation. If you accumulate 6 points in an 18-month period (window), you will have to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee (DRAF) of $100 per year for 3 years. For each additional point over 6 points, you will be charged an additional $25 per year. This fee is in addition to any fines, penalties or surcharges you must pay for a traffic conviction.
The DRAF is also imposed for conviction of an alcohol or drugged driving related traffic offense while operating a motor vehicle, boat or snowmobile, as well as a refusal to take a chemical test for blood alcohol content in New York State.
When you accumulate 11 points in that window, you will be rated a persistent violator, you will receive a persistent violator letter and your license will be suspended for a minimum of 6 months.
If you are unfortunate enough to receive 3 speeding tickets in that window, the DMV will revoke your license for at least 6 months. A revocation will require you to start the application process all over, beginning with the permit test, just as you did when you first obtained your license.
The Defensive Driving Course, now more formally known as the Point and Insurance Reduction Program, is worthy of consideration if a driver is about to accrue 11 points and may face a license suspension. The 18-month window is measured from violation date to violation date, not the conviction date.
As you might expect, the faster you drive over the speed limit, the more points will attach to that ticket and your license. If you drive 1 to 10 MPH over the speed limit, the ticket is 3 points; 11 to 20MPH is 4 points; 21 to 30 MPH is 6 points; 31 to 40 MPH is 8 points; over 40 MPH is 11 points and suspension of your license.
While many people who get a ticket just plead guilty and mail the ticket to the court, (no surprise, the local court websites make that easy for you to do) the system invites negotiation resulting in a better outcome. A guilty plea to the charge as written will result in full points on the driving record, payment of the full fine, a surcharge of $88 to $93 and perhaps an increase of your insurance rates.
Many people are not comfortable going into court and speaking with the prosecutor, police officer or judge. You should be prepared to spend 3 to 4 hours in court, depending on how busy that court is. Many of the courts close to major highways handle a large volume of traffic matters and consequently have long calendars.
If you hire an attorney to represent you, he or she can prepare a waiver, which allows your attorney to appear at the initial conference on your behalf, making it unnecessary for you to appear in court on the first court date.
This article is not intended to be legal advice. If you are faced with any issues referred to above, I would recommend that you consult an attorney.