The first step is to compute how many points are involved with the New York State speeding ticket you have been issued.
The following chart will help you figure this out:
1 – 10 mph over speed limit – 3 points
11 – 20 mph over speed limit – 4 points
21 – 30 mph over speed limit – 6 points
31 – 40 mph over speed limit (possible suspension) – 8 points
More than 40 mph over speed limit (possible suspension) – 11 points
Points are measured from the date of the ticket (even if you are convicted years later). So when adding the possible points for a newly received speeding ticket, you must go measure 18 months from the date of the new ticket and determine how many other points you have on your record during this time period.
Also, three speeding convictions within 18 months will result in an automatic revocation in your driving privileges for 6 months. So you need to make sure you do not have 3 speeding tickets within 18 months.
The next step is to determine whether your case is returnable at a Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) court or not. There are two, very different traffic court systems in New York State and, therefore, this determination is important for you to understand what you can and cannot do. If you are not within the TVB, then usually you can resolve the case by a plea deal.
The TVB courts cover any traffic ticket issued in New York City (New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties), western Suffolk, Buffalo and Rochester. A New York speeding ticket issued in any other part of New York State will not be a TVB court and is subject to a different set of rules.
The reason this is an important consideration is that TVB courts generally do not allow any type of deal-making or plea bargaining. Rather, you must either plead guilty or not guilty and, if you plead not guilty, you are given a hearing date where you will either win or lose. In this “all or nothing” court, it really pays to retain an New York traffic lawyer to fight your case. That is, a New York traffic ticket attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in fighting speeding tickets at the TVB.
Putting aside the emotions involved with fighting your own case, most motorists do not know how to listen carefully or cross examine. Rather, they basically ignore the officer’s testimony, fail to ask any questions and, instead, just tell the judge their story. This incomplete approach is not recommended and is clearly not effective.
If you do fight your own TVB speeding ticket, listen carefully to the officer’s testimony and even take notes. If the officer omits critical testimony (ex., date, time, street, direction, your pedigree information), then so advise the judge after the officer rests. Similarly, if the officer gives testimony which is inconsistent with his other testimony or the information on the traffic ticket, then likewise point this out to the judge.
For instance, I once was fighting a NYC speeding ticket when the officer testified that the motorist was proceeding east bound on the Long Island Expressway. The ticket, however, indicated westbound. After the officer rested, I showed the ticket to the judge who promptly rendered a not guilty determination.
Even without an omission or inconsistency, you should still pose thoughtful questions for the officer. For example, if your defense is that the officer pulled over the wrong vehicle, then ask him where was he when he first observed your car, did he have to pass any other vehicles to apprehend your car, and how long did it take him or apprehend you. These types of questions build on your defense.
Also, ask to the see the officer’s notes or memo book. Read them and determine whether his notes are consistent with his direct testimony. Any discrepancy should be pointed out to the judge. Also, do not be afraid to ask the officer to explain illegible portions of his notes.
After your cross examination of the officer, it is time for you to offer your defense. Speak clearly and slowly. Submit any evidence supporting your defense such as photos, witness statements or diagrams. Keep in mind that the judge hears many, many such cases and, therefore, you should not be rambling or repetitive about irrelevant information.
One last tip. Prior to fighting your case, watch the judge and how he handles other cases. Does he listen and take notes? Does he seem distracted or impatient? If you are concerned about whether you will get a fair hearing, ask for a new date. It is unlikely that you will get the same judge on the next assigned date.
I hope this article has been helpful in getting you prepared to fight your own NY speeding ticket when returnable at the TVB.