WHAT THE HELL IS A DRIVER RESPONSIBILITY ASSESSMENT AND WHY SHOULD I PAY IT? – NEW YORK TRAFFIC TICKET LAWYER

A while back, I wrote a blog post called “New York State Driver Responsibility Assessment And Out Of State Driverswith the hope that both New York and Out-of-State drivers receiving Speeding and Traffic Tickets in the State of New York would read the article and call me before they plead guilty. Like any attorney, the idea was to help people, increase business and get more clients.

What I wasn’t prepared for (but gladly welcome), was the volume of daily telephone calls and website inquires I received from drivers who already plead guilty to their Speeding or Traffic Tickets and were mesmerized to find out that after they accepted the points and paid their fines and surcharges to the court, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”), poured lemon juice on their paper cut, by demanding that they pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment (“DRA”) or risk having their New York State (and possibly their home state) driving privileges suspended.

So, if you are reading this, the first thing you may ask, or even say out loud, is “What the hell is a Driver Responsibility Assessment and why should I pay it?”

The answer to this questions can be found below and on DMV’s website and states:

The 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.”

Effective November 18, 2004, there are three instances that DMV will require the payment of a Driver Responsibility Assessment:

  • The accumulation of 6 or more points on your New York State driver record within an 18 month period for convictions of traffic offenses committed in New York, Quebec or Ontario;
  • A conviction for an alcohol or drugged driving-related traffic offense while driving a motor vehicle, boat, or snowmobile in New York State; or
  • Following a Chemical Test Refusal Hearing or waiver you were found to have refused to take a chemical test for blood alcohol content in New York State.

The driver responsibility assessment applies to all drivers whether they have a driver’s license issued by New York State or another jurisdiction.

The amount of the assessment you have to pay depends upon each driver’s specific facts and circumstances, but can be summarized as follows:

  • Receiving 6 points on your driving record for violations committed during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $100.00. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $300.00;
  • If you receive more than 6 points on your driver record during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $25.00 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 $75.00 for each point in addition to the original 6 points; or
  • If you are convicted of an alcohol or drugged driving-related offense or if you refuse to take a chemical test, the annual assessment is $250.00. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $750.00.

With the above in mind, it should be noted that the failure to pay the DRA will result in the suspension of the driver’s New York State driver’s license or the right to operate a motor vehicle in the State of New York (in the case of an Out-of-State driver.)

Moreover, operating a motor vehicle in the State of New York with a suspended license or driving privilege can, at a minimum, result in the driver being charged with the misdemeanor offense of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree (“AUO 3”). Stated otherwise, if you plead guilty to or are found guilty after a trial for AUO 3, you will have been convicted of a misdemeanor and have a criminal record! This, of course, is not good for anyone, especially law abiding citizens who simply drove a bit too fast.

So, now that you’ve read this article, and decided that just pleading guilty to the Speeding or Traffic Ticket isn’t the best course of action, what’s a driver to do? The first thing I recommend is very simple: CALL ME!

For most drivers the biggest problem they have with the DRA, is that they were blindsided by this blatant “Cash Grab” by the State of New York. However, many people are not aware that if you received a Speeding or Traffic Ticket in New York, in most instances, a plea bargain can be reached to hopefully resolve the ticket in a manner that will avoid a situation where DMV can impose a DRA.

Additionally, and in most instances, YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO PERSONALLY APPEAR IN COURT, as New York State law allows an attorney to appear in court and resolve a Speeding or Traffic Ticket without the client being present. This means that you will not have to take a day off of work, travel any distance to court or sit in a courtroom waiting for your case to be called.

Now, if you have already plead guilty and are staring at a Driver Responsibility Assessment invoice or bill from DMV, it is possible to hire an attorney to request that the court allow you to take your plea back and have the opportunity to work out a plea bargain. While this may not work in all instances, it is, of course, worth discussing with a lawyer.

Hopefully, this article has explained everything you wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about Speeding and Traffic Tickets and the dreaded Driver Responsibility Assessment in the State of New York. With that in mind, I look forward to speaking with anyone and everyone who has read this article and wants to learn more.

Please call 845-638-9200 for a FREE TELEPHONE CONSULTATION!

Brian Berkowitz is a DWI, Criminal Defense and Traffic Ticket Lawyer located in Rockland County New York. Prior to entering the private practice of law in 2002, he worked in the Rockland County District Attorney's Office and served as the Senior Assistant District Attorney in charge of the office's Vehicular Crimes/Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Bureau.

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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