White Plains Traffic Ticket Attorney
If you receive a traffic ticket for speeding, passing a red light, passing
a school bus, unsafe lane change or failure to signal in New York City,
your case will be handled by the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) of the
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Outside of this jurisdiction,
traffic infractions are handled by the local criminal court. The Traffic
Violations Bureau only handles traffic infractions.
It does not handle
traffic misdemeanors which include reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed operator, and driving
while intoxicated. Furthermore, despite the fact that they are traffic
infractions, TVB does not handle driving while ability impaired charges,
nor does it handle traffic tickets charging a refusal to take a preliminary
breath test (the handheld breath test usually requested on the side of
If you have a traffic ticket you would like to discuss,
please contact us for a
free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.
Entering Your Plea: You Have 15 Days
For traffic tickets, you can plead guilty, not guilty or guilty with an
explanation. If you plead guilty, you are admitting that you committed
the violation. If you plead not guilty, a hearing date will be sent to
you by first class mail. If you plead guilty with an explanation, you
are admitting that you committed the violation but that there were mitigating
circumstances you wish to explain to the judge.
When pleading guilty with an explanation, you may not allege you did not
commit the offense. What most motorists don’t realize is that a
guilty with an explanation plea is an admission of guilt that results
in conviction and points being assessed. The only benefit to pleading
guilty with an explanation is that the fine schedule does not apply. In
other words, the judge may deviate from the standard fine schedule.
You have 15 days from the date of the violation to return your ticket with
a plea to the address shown on the top part of the back of the ticket.
Your plea will be considered timely if it is post-marked on or before
the 15th day after you received the ticket. You should always plead not
guilty. You can also
enter your plea online, in person at any TVB or by phone by calling the number on the back of
Failure to Answer the Ticket
If you fail to answer the ticket, you may be found guilty by default and
your license may be suspended until you vacate the default or pay the
fine imposed and any suspension termination fees. If you wish to enter
a late not-guilty plea, you must do so in person at any TVB location.
If your license has already been suspended due to your failure to answer,
the Administrative Law Judge may continue the suspension until your hearing
date or require you to pay a $40 bond for each ticket.
The total bonds may not exceed $160. The bond money will be returned to
you if you are found not guilty or if the charge is dismissed for any
reason. If you are found guilty, the bond will be returned when your fine
is paid. If you are going to retain our law firm to represent you, we
ask that you send us the ticket, and we will enter your not-guilty plea
with a formal Notice of Appearance informing the DMV that we are representing
you. Please call (888) 840-0043 for more information.
Appearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
You will be required to appear, or have your criminal defense attorney
appear, in person before an Administrative Law Judge for your current
traffic ticket if:
- (1) a conviction on the current ticket will result in a finding that you
are a persistent violator;
- (2) the guilty plea will result in a mandatory license or registration
suspension or revocation;
- (3) you are accused of exceeding the speed limit by 30 MPH or more;
- (4) the current ticket is your second speeding ticket within 6 months regardless
of the speed;
- (5) the current ticket alleges a violation of VTL 509 and you have two
prior convictions for violating VTL 509 within the last 10 years;
- (6) if you have a junior license (including a junior motorcycle license);
- (7) you have a restricted license;
- (8) your license was revoked or suspended at the time you received the
current ticket; and/or
- (9) based upon the circumstances that led to the issuance of your current
ticket, the Commissioner of the DMV requires your personal appearance.
What if you are late for your hearing?
If you are more than one hour late for your hearing, you will be deemed
as having failed to appear. Your license may be suspended until the next
hearing date and/or the judge may require you to post a bond (see above
explanation about bonds).
Your Rights at The Hearing
At your hearing, you may be represented by an attorney or, with the Administrative
Law Judge’s approval, any other person you choose. You may or may
not testify. It will not be held against you if you choose not to. The
officer will testify first. It is the officer’s burden to prove
your guilt by clear and convincing evidence. The “clear and convincing
evidence” standard is not as stringent as the “proof beyond
a reasonable doubt” standard applicable to traffic infractions handled
in criminal courts.
Therefore, those charged with traffic infractions within New York City
may be found guilty on a lesser burden of proof at a TVB hearing than
those charged with the same exact offense in a criminal court. This unequal
treatment has withstood equal protection challenges. The judge may ask
the officer questions; however, he or she may not ask leading questions
regarding material elements. After the officer testifies, you may, if
you choose, testify on your own behalf and call witnesses.
If you testify, the judge and the officer may ask you questions. They may
also ask your witnesses questions. Both the officer and you may introduce
documentary evidence. Both you and the officer may make a closing statement.
After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will render a decision.
The judge need not make any factual determination; he or she may simply
find you guilty or not guilty.
Rules of Evidence at the Hearing
The general rules of evidence that would be applicable in a criminal court
do not apply to TVB hearings. Also, unlike traffic violation hearings
handled by local criminal courts, at a TVB hearing, the New York Criminal
Procedure Law is not applicable. There are, however, some rules of evidence
applicable to TVB hearings. For example, privileged communications cannot
be used at a TVB hearing. Some of the more common privileged communications
that cannot be used against you include:
- (1) “spousal privilege” which provides that one may not be
forced to testify against his or her spouse regarding communications made
during marriage unless the other spouse consents;
- (2) “attorney-client privilege” provides that generally, communications
between you and your attorney are confidential;
- (3) “patient-doctor privilege” prohibits your doctor from disclosing
any information he or she obtained while treating you provided the information
was necessary for your doctor to treat you. The privilege extends to many
other medical professionals;
- (4) “clergy privilege” which prohibits your clergyman or a
minister of any other religion from revealing confessions or confidential
communications you make to him or her; and the
- (5) “psychologist-patient privilege” and “social worker-patient
privilege” which are both similar to the “doctor-patient privilege.”
Although not a privileged communication, it can be argued that any evidence
obtained in violation of the eavesdropping statute (PL 250.05) is not
admissible. There are many exceptions to the above privileges. If you
have questions and believe one applies to your case, contact our firm.
Furthermore, evidence which would be inadmissible for constitutional reasons
if the case were tried in a court with concurrent jurisdiction over the
case is also not admissible in a TVB hearing.
This situation might arise if you are charged with both a traffic violation
and a traffic misdemeanor. If the issuing officer makes a
speeding ticket returnable to TVB but for some reason decides to make a reckless driving
ticket returnable to the criminal court, the criminal court would have
jurisdiction over the speeding ticket. Similarly, evidence of prior misconduct,
incompetency or illness is excluded from a TVB hearing, unless it would
be admissible in a court with concurrent jurisdiction.
If the Judge Finds You Guilty
If the Administrative Law Judge finds you guilty by clear and convincing
evidence, he or she will then examine your driving record. You may explain
any conviction the judge is considering when determining your penalty.
You may also make a statement prior to the imposition of the penalty.
The judge will then announce the penalty, which typically includes a fine
and a license sanction (suspension/revocation).
Why You Need an Experienced White Plains Lawyer
The TVB is a very difficult place for motorists to appear without an attorney.
Should you receive a ticket in New York, it is best that you have an attorney
experienced with traffic tickets and the TVB system represent you. You
should know that even the most experienced attorneys have difficulty winning
dismissals in TVB. There is no plea bargaining and, in reality, the standard
of proof is fairly low.
Please contact us to discuss your particular ticket or with any other questions.