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Bad Brakes

Although some people believe that traffic tickets are nothing to be concerned about, having defective brakes in New York constitutes a misdemeanor, a crime under the laws of New York which can leave you with a permanent criminal record.

If you or someone you know has been accused of driving with inadequate or bad brakes call our office today for a free consultation. We will fight your charges and obtain the very best result possible.

Although most equipment violations do not require intent to be proven, defective brakes allegations do require some form of criminal intent to be proven by the prosecutor. Violations of Vehicle and Traffic Law 375(1)(a), the defective equipment provision which covers brakes, may be penalized with the addition of 4 points to a driver’s record.

Does a violation of New York’s vehicle equipment laws prohibiting bad brakes require criminal intent, or can one simply be convicted of a misdemeanor for having brakes that are in poor condition? New York Penal Law 15.15 requires that any law that defines a crime should be interpreted to require criminal intent unless otherwise specified. Since neither Vehicle and Traffic Law 375(1) or Vehicle and Traffic Law 375(32) require intent, yet neither specifies that one may be convicted with no intent, the law implies that criminal intent is required to be convicted of a bad brakes violation.

Does the existence of bad or defective brakes on a vehicle imply that the person who is operating the vehicle knows or should know that their brakes are improper? Nothing in either of the aforementioned provisions of Vehicle and Traffic Law 375 requires such an inference be drawn. Courts have determined that if such a presumption were to be created it may be justified based on the public need for highway safety, but, the legislature did not create such an inference. New York requires that vehicles be regularly inspected and, regular people rely on the results of inspections, carried out by the licensed automotive professionals who do them, that their vehicles are safe. Because of this, prosecutors are required to prove that defendants must know or, with adequate diligence should know that their brakes are defective.

Originally, the New York state legislature provided that equipment violations had to be dismissed when the defendant proved to the court that they corrected the violation right away, 1 business day after they were issued the summons. The proof that the condition was corrected was required to be 1) prepared by an official inspection station 2) from a shop that repairs automotive vehicles 3) from a shop that performs maintenance on fleets of cars 4) or based upon a statement that is affixed with a police officer’s signature. These measures proved to be largely impossible or very costly to drivers.

To encourage people to fix their vehicles the legislature changed the law to allow for easier access to the statutory defense, except in the case of bad brakes. Vehicle and Traffic Law 376-a(5a) allows for other equipment violations to be dismissed based on proof that the required repair was purchased. This amendment left out defective brakes. This shows the state’s policy of strictly enforcing the equipment rules prohibiting bad brakes. The penalties of 4 points and a misdemeanor criminal charge merit hiring an attorney to present the best possible case and potentially improve your outcome.

If you or someone you know has been accused of having bad brakes call our New York traffic lawyers today. We have the skill knowledge and experience to fight your case.

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