If you plan to fight your traffic ticket in New York, you must file your ‘not guilty’ plea as soon as possible, or you could face an automatic conviction and be required to pay the fine. You should consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney if your ticket indicates you must submit your plea in person.
The first step to fighting your New York traffic ticket is to plead not guilty with the court or agency in charge of your case. The citation will tell you who you need to notify of your not guilty plea. Generally, in New York City you need to notify the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB); all other NY jurisdictions you should notify the traffic court in the county, city, town, or village where you received the citation.
The deadline for entering your plea will depend on the court or agency in charge of your traffic case, and your traffic ticket will have specific instructions on how, when, and where to plead. The methods for entering your plea differ by location; you could have the option to respond:
- In person.
- By phone.
- By mail.
- Online. (TVB provides an online portal for you to use; for other city/county traffic courts, check the court website.)
Once you’ve successfully entered your plea, the court or agency in charge of your case will assign you a date to return for your pre-trial conference OR trial before a judge. Make sure you appear on your court date! If you miss ANY of your court dates, you could face penalties like a being warrant issued for your arrest or your driver’s license could be suspended. Your attorney can appear on your behalf, if you cannot appear in person.
Implications of Pleading Not Guilty
When you plead not guilty, you’re affirming your innocence AND exercising your legal right to present your case before a judge. By pleading not guilty, you’re also verifying that you:
- Understand a jail sentence could come as a result of serious charges like DUI and DWI.
- Are aware points could be added to your record if you’re found guilty.
- Can devote the necessary time to appearing in court, possibly multiple times.
- For more tips on choosing whether or not to contest your citation, contact us using the form below.
The process for contesting your traffic ticket in court generally consists of a pretrial conference followed by a settlement or a trial before a judge
Before heading to court, consider hiring an attorney. Should you opt to represent yourself, you’ll be expected to properly follow procedures of the traffic court. You should seriously consider retaining counsel if the charges against you could result in imprisonment.
At your pretrial conference, you (or your attorney) will meet with a local Assistant District Attorney to try and negotiate a settlement. Accepting a settlement usually requires:
- The people reducing the charge or agreeing to reduced penalties for the charges.
- Changing your plea to guilty
- If you can settle, there is no trial. However, if a settlement can’t be agreed upon, the traffic court will schedule a trial before a judge.
Trial Before a Judge
When you go to trial before a judge, generally you can expect the following:
- Both the state prosecutor and you (or your lawyer) make opening arguments.
- Each side has the opportunity to present:
- Rebuttals and cross-examinations of witnesses.
- Closing arguments from both sides.
- Judge’s verdict.
- If you’re found guilty, the judge will then announce your sentence.
Consequences of Contesting Your Ticket
The consequences of fighting your traffic citation can have long-lasting positive AND negative effects. The outcome of your case will determine whether you walk out of the courtroom feeling satisfied OR disappointed.
If You Lose Your Case
If you are found guilty, the severity of your traffic charges will dictate which of the following penalties you face:
- A suspended license.
- Fines – usually, you’ll need to pay all fines on the same day you’re convicted. If you don’t have the means to do so, the court may allow you to pay in installments.
- Community service.
- Points on your driving record which could lead to higher insurance rates.
- Jail time if convicted of a traffic misdemeanor or felony.
- If you hold a valid commercial driver license (CDL) you MUST notify your employer of traffic charges within 30 days of conviction for any moving violation.
Filing an Appeal
If you want to appeal ta guilty verdict, you’ll have to file a notice of appeal within 30 days of receiving the verdict. You must file an appeal directly through the court or agency handling your case.
If You Win Your Case
If the judge finds you not guilty of the traffic violations, congrats! You can look forward to:
- Dismissal of all charges and the traffic ticket.
- No penalties or fines to deal with.
- No points added to your driving record.
- Insurance rates won’t increase.
Following the results of your traffic ticket case, it’s important to check the accuracy of your driving record. Any incorrect information could lead to major issues—including unwarranted fines, penalties, and lots of stress down the road for you.
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