Dealing with a New York State Traffic Ticket Using Four Easy Questions:


1. What Type of ticket is it? 

- Is it just a Traffic offense (non-criminal) or a Criminal offense?

[You will need a Lawyer for a criminal offense!]

2. Do you need to physically show up to Court? 

Again, is it a Criminal Charge?

[You will need a Lawyer for a criminal offense!]

The tickets, also called UTTs (Uniform Traffic Tickets) come in two distinct shapes:

-the long skinny handwritten one, let's call it the "4 x 9"

-the full page computer generated one, let's call it the "8.5 x 11"

State Police use the long form "8.5 x 11" and also give an additional page called "A Supporting Deposition." This is a sworn statement by the police. It states what they observed, or heard, or radar they used to determine speed level infraction.

To Determine whether it is a Traffic violation or Criminal charge: Look at the box which has one of three choices (levels) marked:

tr infrac (traffic infraction aka a violation: non-criminal offense)

misd (misdemeanor, first level of crime in NYS: criminal offense)

fel (felony, highest level of criminal offense in NYS)

If it is a Criminal Offense (like a VTL 1212 Reckless Driving or a VTL 511 AUO "Aggravated Unlicensed Operator") you will need to do TWO things: 1) Get a Lawyer and2) Show Up to Court Physically.

3.  If it is not a criminal offense, are you pleading Guilty or Not Guilty?

*You can also plead guilty with an explanation (that may possibly influence the fine).

To have the most legal rights you must send back your Plea choice back to the Court within 48 Hours of receiving the ticket. If you do not do this, then you will lose your right to request a Supporting Deposition and have the ticket dismissed if the supporting deposition is not received back from the Court within 30 days of the Court receipt of this request. This is usually not an issue with State Trooper tickets as the state police give supporting depositions at roadside.

4.  Fourth Question, If you plead guilty, first determine what pleading guilty will do to you? 

Will your driving privileges (in NYS and elsewhere) be affected?

What fines, surcharges, and/or DMV assessments are you exposed to?

*New York traffic tickets (UTTs/Uniform Traffic Tickets) don't tell you how to pay, where to pay, or even what to pay.

They don't tell you what to pay? 

Basically (the tickets) give very little in the way of direction on what to do next. Only check off a box, guilty or not guilty? do you want a supporting deposition? What if I plead guilty? Then what? Questions only lead to more questions. 

Who do I pay? Where do I pay? Maybe even, can I just pay this? People often just want to be done, they just want to put the ticket behind them. 

In comparison with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or even Florida, where the tickets have very specific itemized amounts to pay in fines and/or clear-cut options (traffic school/diversion), New York tickets are antiquated. Much like our system of little village, town, and city courts with night hours, afternoon hours, and non-lawyer judges, New York tickets are caught in a time warp.

Bottom Line: You don't know from looking at the ticket, what it will cost or how many points will be assessed. Try calling the Court looking for answers and you may be in for another surprise, these are mostly part-time courts with part-time staff (clerks) and they are rarely there. Some have machines (answering machines) where you cannot leave a message. Some have office hours two or three hours a week.  As in please call back between the hours of 10 and 12 on the third Tuesday. 

If you are confused about your ticket or want more concrete information about a traffic offense, give us a call:  607-229-5184.

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Mr. Cyr made it possible for me to be able to continue on with my future without a criminal charge.
— Faith