Receiving a traffic violation ticket in the state of New York does not always mean having to go to ‘court’. For places such as Buffalo, Rochester and Suffolk County, if you receive a ticket classified as a ‘non-criminal moving traffic violation’, you are not required to attend court. This is so, as the courts in these areas focus primarily on the prosecution of criminal cases.
Not having to attend court however, does not mean that you will not be required to attend a hearing. For non-criminal traffic tickets in these and some other areas of the state of New York, the case is dealt with by a New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB). The exception to this lies in the case of parking violations, which are not addressed by the Traffic Violations Bureau.
If you choose to maintain your innocence you will be required to air your case before a DMV Administrative Law Judge, who will most often be a highly experienced lawyer with extensive knowledge of and training in vehicular and traffic laws of New York. This Administrative Law Judge has all the powers of a regular judge, with the only exception being that he or she cannot sentence offenders to serving time in jail. As such, the Administrative Law Judge can pass judgment, set fines, and revoke and suspend licenses.
With this in mind it is important that you attend your hearing if you intend to contest the ticket. Otherwise, you may discover your license suspended, a default conviction made in your absence, and warrants out for your arrest for unpaid fines.
To enter your plea of ‘not guilty’ you need only check the appropriate box on the back of your ticket and mail it in to the address in Albany within fifteen days of the date on which the violation was documented. The DMV should then reply with the necessary details regarding the time and location of your hearing. If, however, the charges are such that a guilty verdict would result in your license or registration being revoked or suspended, you are not allowed to mail in your ‘not guilty’ plea. In an instance such as this, you would be required to go to the TVB in person to answer to the charges and submit your plea.
Of course, you could also take the route of least resistance and plead guilty to the charges. In this case, you would not be required to attend any hearing of any sort. To plead guilty you simply check the appropriate box on the back of your ticket, then mail the ticket and the payment to the Albany address, or drop it off at your local TVB office, within fifteen days of the date the violation was recorded.
Whichever route you choose to take, remember that it is important to respond in a timely manner so as to prevent additional fines.