OUT OF STATE DRIVERS – PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE PLEADING GUILTY TO A NEW YORK TRAFFIC TICKET

WHEN AN OUT OF STATE DRIVER GETS A TICKET IN NEW YORK, PART 2

Like anyone in business for themselves, I am pleased when my phone rings and a new potential client calls to discuss their case and what I can do to help them. In the realm of Speeding and Traffic tickets, however, lately I have been receiving the same call over and over again from out-of-state drivers informing me that they received a ticket in New York and rather than initially speaking with a New York Traffic Ticket Attorney to discuss their options, they simply plead guilty and paid the fine.

If this is where the story ends, it wouldn’t even be worth writing about it. The problem these out-of-state motorists have, is that they weren’t aware that in the State of New York, the accumulation of 6 or more points during an 18-month period triggers the imposition of a Driver Responsibility Assessment (“DRA”) by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (“DMV”).

Per NYS DMV’s website, “[t]he driver responsibility assessment is a fee you must pay to DMV over a three year period if you are convicted of certain traffic offenses in New York State or accumulate 6 or more points on your driving record within 18 months. This fee is in addition to any fines, penalties or surcharges that you must pay for a traffic conviction. The purpose of the assessment is to prevent the repeated behavior of problem drivers and to improve traffic safety.” (citation).

In New York, points are imposed for most traffic offenses. In the case of Speeding Tickets, they are based upon the number of miles per hour (“MPH”) over the speed limit and are set as follows:

  • 1-10               3 Points
  • 11-20             4 Points
  • 21-30             6 Points
  • 31-40             8 Points
  • Over 40       11 Points

The DRA applies to all drivers, including those holding driver’s licenses issued by another state and applies to first time and repeat offenders.

By way of example, Fred who lives in and is licensed to drive by the State of Connecticut, on a beautiful summer day decides to load the family into the minivan and take a ride to Rockland Lake State Park in Rockland County, New York. Once he crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge and entered Rockland County, he gets pulled over and receives a Speeding Ticket for driving 76 mph in a 55 mph zone (a 6-point ticket). Rather than contacting a Rockland County Speeding Ticket Lawyer, he simply pleads guilty and pays the fine. No problem, right? At first, the answer is no. After he pleads guilty, the court sends him an invoice to pay the fine which he immediately takes care of and moves on with his life.

About a month later, however, Fred opens a letter from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles which informs him that since he plead guilty to a 6-point ticket, he must pay a New York State Driver Responsibility Assessment of $300.00, which is payable at once or at the rate of $100.00 a year for 3 years. To add insult to injury, the letter further states that he must pay at least the minimum amount by the payment date or his driver license will be suspended. What this actually means, is that if he doesn’t pay, his driving privileges in the State of New York will be suspended, which, in some instances, can cause his home state to take similar action unless and until the New York matter is resolved.

Well, shouldn’t this information be listed on the ticket, so that Fred knew what he was getting himself into before pleading guilty? One would think so, but in most instances this is not the case and accordingly, most out-of-state driver calling my office to discuss the DRA are completely blindsided by this news.

It should be noted, that the DRA doesn’t simply stop at $100.00 per year for three 3 years. Per NYS DMV, “[i]f you receive 6 points on your driver record for violations committed during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $100. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $300. If you receive more than 6 points on your driver record during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $25 for each point in addition to the original six points. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $75 for each point in addition to the original 6 points.” (citation). THIS APPLIES TO ALL DRIVERS, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY ARE LICENSED!

Accordingly, if Fred had also plead guilty to a 2 point ticket in New York a few months prior to receiving the speeding ticket, he would now have 8 points on his New York driving record and accordingly, would have to pay $150.00 a year for 3 years. This is specifically why I always tell my clients that not only do they need to worry about the ticket they just received, but they also need to be concerned about the next ticket they get. I can’t tell you how many times a client has said to me “I haven’t gotten a traffic ticket in 25 years and all of the sudden, I keep getting pulled over and ticketed.”

If you are reading this and you have already plead guilty and received the DRA letter, all is not lost, as it is possible that you can hire an attorney to file a motion with the court requesting a “do over”, which, if granted, would withdraw the previously entered guilty plea, stop the imposition of the DRA (in most instances) and provide the lawyer the opportunity to work out a plea bargain to a ticket that has less or no points (thereby avoiding the imposition of the DRA).

However, if you have not yet plead guilty to the ticket, you most certainly have come to the right place! Upon calling my office for a free consultation, those drivers, licensed out-of-state or by New York, will be informed of the following:

  • That they are at risk of having a DRA imposed upon a plea of guilty to the ticket (regardless of where they are licensed);
  • That, in most instances, they will never have to step foot in court, as NYS Law allows an attorney to appear in court without the need for their client to be there;
  • That, in most cases, a plea bargain can be reached, which, as stated above, can result in a plea to a ticket carrying less or no points.

Simply stated, while the New York State Driver Responsibility Assessment appears to be nothing more than a “cash grab”, in situations like this, knowledge is power and I welcome the opportunity to speak with any and all drivers about the ticket they received and what I can do to help.

If you received a Traffic or Speeding ticket in Rockland County or anywhere in the State of New York, please do not hesitate to call me at 845-638-9200 for a free consultation.

Brian Berkowitz, is a former prosecutor and a DWI, Criminal Defense and Traffic Ticket Attorney representing clients in Rockland County and the State of New York.

Law Office of Brian Berkowitz, 222 North Main Street, New City, NY 10956. 845-638-9200.

WEB: www.Berklaw.com

TWITTER: @BerklawBrian

FACEBOOK: Law Office of Brian Berkowitz

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