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  • Fight Traffic Ticket in New York

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    Know Your Options

    Pay Ticket
    (Plead Guilty or No Contest)

    Learn more about
    Paying your Traffic Ticket »

    Fight Ticket
    (Plead Not Guilty)

    • Contest the ticket during a hearing.
    • Represent yourself or, depending on the nature of the ticket, hire an lawyer to represent you.
    • Possibly lose the option for a plea bargain involving lesser penalties.
    • Experience no penalties if found not guilty (except any applicable court/attorney fees).
    • Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).

    Learn more below

    What it Means to Fight Your NY Traffic Ticket

    If you choose not to pay your traffic ticket in full, you might be able to have the charges lessened or dropped. Generally, you’ll appear before a clerk or judge for this; most situations won’t allow for reducing or dropping a ticket via website, phone, or mail.

    However, if you choose to plead not guilty (meaning, you choose to fight the ticket), there are certain steps you must follow that could vary according to where you obtained the ticket and the nature of the violation.

    Your ticket will provide instructions for the option you choose. Before you decide, note that the possibilities of pleading to a lesser charge or having the charges dropped altogether are just that―possibilities. They aren’t always options. Still, if you decide to fight your ticket, most likely you suspend any chance of having them as options.

    Pleading Guilty or No Contest

    Generally, pleading guilty or no contest means paying your ticket outright via the Internet, phone, or mail―depending on the nature of the violation and where you obtained it.

    Learn more about paying your traffic ticket.

    Avoid Additional Charges

    Check your ticket for the time allotted you to respond to the charge. If you don’t respond within that time, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be notified and your license will become suspended. If you still don’t respond, you’ll receive a default conviction of guilty and another license suspension.

    Driving with a suspended license can get you a felony conviction, fines, and possible jail time, probation, and vehicle confiscation.

    A default conviction isn’t necessarily permanent; once you pay the fines to remove the suspensions and the conviction―and any other related court costs―you can move forward with pleading guilty or not guilty.

    Notify the Court

    Determine Where to Plead

    The court you notify will depend on where you obtained the violation.

    If you obtained the ticket in any of the following locations, and your ticket reads “Traffic Violations Bureau” at the bottom, you will handle your ticket via the TVB:

    • New York City
    • Buffalo
    • Rochester
    • Babylon
    • Brookhaven
    • Huntington
    • Islip
    • Smithtown

    Otherwise, you’ll likely handle the ticket at the local courthouse.

    Inform the Court

    If your ticket is through the TVB, you can plead not guilty by:

    • Mail. Simply check the “not guilty” box on the back of the ticket and follow the instructions for mailing it in to the TVB.
    • Visiting your local TVB office.
    • Using the TVB’s online Plea and Pay option.

    Be sure to take action within 30 days of receiving the ticket; otherwise, you face license suspension and a default conviction.

    You’ll receive a letter notifying you of your hearing date and location.

    If your ticket is through the local court, contact that court for the options it allows. Most likely, your ticket will provide contact information, if not complete instructions.

    Note that if you’re required to plead not guilty in person, you might consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer to accompany you. Because this isn’t financially feasible for everyone, sometimes it’s best to wait and hire legal counsel for your actual hearing.

    Hire a New York Traffic Ticket Attorney

    Many drivers don't feel comfortable going to court without experienced representation; hiring a traffic ticket attorney to represent you can help ensure you get the best possible outcome.

    Prepare Your Case

    Once you receive your TVB court date or find out from your local court the date of your hearing, you can begin preparing your case.

    In most instances, the courts allow you to bring witnesses and written evidence. Also, you can testify, so it’s a good idea to practice your testimony before the hearing.

    These are all preparations a traffic ticket attorney can help you make.

    As part of your preparations, let the TVB or local court know if you need assistance because you are hearing impaired or not fluent in English. Generally, these are easy adjustments for the courts to make, but you must notify them in plenty of time.

    Plead Your Case Before the ALJ or Local Court

    If you’re case is through the TVB, a DMV Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), an attorney with training and experience in Vehicle and Traffic Law, will hear your case. Going through the local court, you may deal with an ALJ or you may deal with another kind of judge or clerk. Regardless of whom you go before, his or her power is the same: To find you guilty or not guilty of your traffic violation.

    At your hearing, the judge will listen to sworn testimony and accept evidence from the police officer who cited you, any witnesses either of you bring, and you.

    During the hearing, either you or your lawyer is allowed to ask the police officer questions. Because you might be nervous, or not fully understand the state’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, it’s a good idea to have your traffic ticket lawyer handle the questions.

    Once the judge has heard testimony and seen evidence from both sides, he or she will make a judgment. The main idea here is that the judge must find enough “clear and convincing evidence” to find you guilty. If the judge doesn’t find such evidence, you’ll be found not guilty; if he or she does, you’ll be found guilty and the judge will notify you of your fine and court costs.

    At this point, the judge might also suspend or revoke your driver’s license. This depends on the violation and how many points in placed on your driving record.

    Filing an Appeal

    If you are found guilty and wish to file an appeal, you can do so via the TVB website, by filing a Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) Appeal Form (Form AA-33), or by following the process set forth by your local court.

    Generally, you must file an appeal within 30 days of your judgment.

    Check Your Driving Record

    After finalizing your case (which can include paying any required fines and receiving official paperwork), {Driving Records}check your driving record} to make sure it accurately reflects your judgment. If you were found guilty, make sure only the allotted number of points were added to your record; likewise, if you were found not guilty, make sure no extra points were added.

    Check our section on the NY point system to learn more about points and how they relate to certain violations and your driver’s license.

    Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates

    Many car insurance companies increase policyholders’ rates when they receive guilty convictions and points on their driving records. Check with your current provider about what to expect the next time you renew your policy. Depending on your provider, you might qualify for some sort of “forgiveness” plan; otherwise, get a head start and begin comparing auto insurance rates online.