Traffic offenses in New York add up, and not just in terms of the financial impact. Each traffic violation adds points to your driver’s record, and those points can lead to driver’s license suspension among other consequences. Plus, some traffic violations are criminal offenses. If you ignore or do not fight traffic violations with criminal consequences, you could end up with a criminal record. For someone with a clean history, you do not want to make this mistake. All the same, for someone with a driving or criminal record, you do not want to add to it.

At Arnold A. Arpino & Associates P.C., as your traffic violation defense attorney in New York, I will help you with either a civil or criminal traffic offense. I know and have seen how these seemingly minor violations can cause real problems for people. To make sure you minimize or avoid the consequences of a traffic ticket today, call me at 631.724.5251 to schedule a consultation.

Traffic Offenses in New York

Traffic offenses involve a motorist’s unlawful conduct while they are in control or operating a vehicle. Also referred to as traffic violations, these offenses are prosecuted at the state or local level. 

There is often a distinction made between traffic offenses committed while a vehicle is moving and while it’s stationary. Moving traffic violations include speeding and running a red light. Some examples of non-moving traffic violations include illegal parking and displaying expired plates. 

The term traffic offense describes a wide range of conduct from minor infractions to more serious crimes.

Traffic Offense Classification in New York

Traffic offenses can be civil (often referred to as infractions) or criminal. Each state identifies specific offenses and categorizes them accordingly.

Traffic Violations

Traffic infractions in New York are minor traffic offenses. If you commit a traffic infraction, you’re usually issued a ticket. Typically, you have the option to pay the fee or dispute the ticket by attending a pre-trial conference on a designated day at traffic court. 

The penalties for a traffic infraction include fines, completing defensive driving courses, and driver penalty points. Accumulating driver penalty points can impact the cost of car insurance (by increasing your rates) and eventually result in a license suspension (if you accumulate over 11 points in an 18 month period). 

Common examples of traffic infractions include:

  • Speeding – New York VTL 1180(a), (b), (c), or (d)
  • Using a mobile phone while driving – New York VTL 1225
  • Failing to stop or signal
  • Following too close to another vehicle
  • Failing to wear a seatbelt – New York VTL 1229
  • Disobeying a road sign – New York VTL 1110(a)
  • Driving uninsured – New York VTL 319(1)(u)
  • Parking illegally – New York VTL 1200

Criminal Traffic Offenses

Traffic crimes are more serious than infractions. They can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the relevant laws and circumstances. For example, you may be charged with a felony if you have any prior traffic offenses or if the conduct resulted in injury or death. 

Traffic crimes are heard in a criminal court. 

Some common examples of traffic crimes often charged as a misdemeanor include:

  • Reckless driving – New York VTL 1212
  • Leaving the scene of an accident with bodily injury – New York VTL 600
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license – New York VTL 511(1) or (2)
  • Operating a vehicle while under the influence (DWI) of a chemical substance – New York VTL 1192(2), (3), (4)
  • Suspended registration to the vehicle – New York VTL 512
  • Failure to return license plates – New York VTL 340

Examples of traffic offenses usually charged as a felony include:

  • Driving on a suspended license with multiple suspensions – VTL 511(2)
  • Multiple DWI offenses in the past 10 years; 
  • Vehicular homicide

Potential penalties for traffic crimes include but are not limited to fines, probation, community service, and/or incarceration. You’re more likely to receive time behind bars if you are charged with a felony or you have a history of committing traffic violations. 

A conviction for a traffic crime can also result in the suspension or loss of your license, driver penalty points, and your vehicle being impounded.

Three Reasons to Fight Traffic Offenses

Whether a traffic offense is minor or major, or criminal, you want to fight it. Here are three good reasons why that’s the case.

  1. Clean driving record. If you pay the fine, plead guilty, or ignore a traffic offense, you will destroy any clean driving record or you will add points to an already-existing driving record. The more points you obtain, the closer you are to license suspension. Further, with each traffic violation, you reset the clock used to erase old offenses from your record. It can take three to seven years to wipe a driving record clean – it all depends on the circumstances and seriousness of the offense.
  2. Limited evidence. If you fight a ticket, even a civil infraction, the officer must appear in court and show evidence to prove you committed the offense. Many times officers do not show up or they do not have the necessary evidence to show you were speeding or otherwise violated a law while operating a vehicle.
  3. Increase options. To pay a traffic ticket is the same as declaring guilt. If you request a hearing, however, you have more options to plead to a lesser offense or may be able to get the ticket or criminal charge dismissed.

Contact a Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney in New York Today

The law around driving offenses can be technical and is also constantly evolving. Especially if you’re considering challenging the allegations, it pays to speak with an experienced traffic defense lawyer in New York who will review your case and explain your options. 

For many people, the ability to drive is essential to their daily life. While the majority of traffic violations result in a small fine and some demerit points, if you are charged with a serious traffic violation, you may be at risk of imprisonment and losing your license. Call Arnold A. Arpino & Associates P.C. at 631.724.5251 to schedule a consultation with an attorney today.