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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT LONG ISLAND TRAFFIC TICKETS


WARNING - THESE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS APPLY TO NEW YORK DRIVERS and specifically, DRIVERS WHOSE TICKETS WERE ISSUED IN NEW YORK STATE IN THE NYC METRO AREA. IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT ANY OTHER STATE, PROVINCE OR COUNTRY, ALL THESE ANSWERS MAY BE COMPLETELY WRONG! YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN ATTORNEY IN THE JURISDICTION WHERE YOU RECEIVED THE TICKET BEFORE TAKING ANY ACTIONS. You MUST consult a LOCAL attorney or you will get BAD ADVICE. Also, this page includes opinions and certain attempts at comedy which should, but may not be, obvious when read.
Thanks for visiting and please Drive Safely! - updated APRIL 5, 2014.


IMPORTANT BULLETINS - Cell Phone and Texting Violations are now 5 points - the same as reckless driving or passing a stopped school bus! If you're a junior or probationary driver, it also includes a MANDATORY SUSPENSION, so don't risk it. Get a hands free device and mount your phone! This is especially harsh, since fines are especially high at this court and all of the VTL surcharges went up on July 26, 2013. They have been increased by $8.00 per offense (to $88 and $93!). Parking violations under Sections 1200, 1201 and 1202 now have $25 surcharges on them too. But it gets worse yet - watch my videos at the bottom of this page in glorious LAWYER-VISION-HD!!!
FAQ 1 - Should I plead guilty to my traffic ticket?


NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Never plead guilty, well, unless I tell you to, anyway! I can't begin to tell you how many clients plead guilty to a first speeder and then wind up suspended because they get another one soon after. How your case is handled depends upon WHAT COURT you are to appear before and the facts of your particular case. In many courts we can get the charge reduced or dismissed, so NEVER PLEAD GUILTY! OK?

If you send me an email YOU MUST TELL ME ABOUT THE TICKETS - HOW MANY TICKETS? - AND WHAT ARE THE CHARGES? and in WHICH COURT? If you are not sure, check the ticket - look at where the ticket tells you where to mail your "NOT GUILTY" plea to.

FAQ 2 - Where are the Long Island traffic courts?

There are many different traffic courts on Long Island.

IN QUEENS There are 2 traffic Courts - QUEENS NORTH located at 30-56 Whitestone Expressway 2nd Floor, Flushing, and QUEENS SOUTH located at 168-35 Rockaway Boulevard 2nd Floor in Jamaica.

IN NASSAU - There are 2 major traffic courts in Nassau. Both are located in downtown Hempstead.

They are: NCTPVA (Nassau County Traffic & Parking Violations Agency) located at 16 Cooper Street and First District Court (the criminal court) located at 99 Main Street. There is actually a third traffic court in downtown Hempstead too, just for Hempstead Village, so don't confuse them.

IN SUFFOLK - There are 2 major traffic courts in Suffolk.

SCTPVA (Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency) which just opened for business in April, 2013. Other tickets can put you at First District Court (the criminal court) located at 400 Carleton Avenue in Central Islip.

LOCAL TOWNS and VILLAGES - All over the island, there are local Town and Village Justice courts that handle traffic tickets and more.

FAQ 3 - What's the difference between these courts?

Generally speaking, there are "good" and "bad" traffic courts. In the good ones, your attorney can go there get the charge reduced for you. In the bad courts, there are no deals. You must plead guilty or go to trial. Here is how the Long Island courts break down:

- The TVB system is used QUEENS and throughout the 5 boroughs NYC. TVB is usually the worst court to be in because there are, with a very rare exception, no plea bargains allowed, so you cannot plead guilty to a lesser charge. It's win or lose at TVB. To make matters worse, the BURDEN OF PROOF at TVB is LOWER than in criminal courts. TVB only requires proof by "...clear and convincing evidence" a much easier burden than proof "...beyond a reasonable doubt." This makes it easier to convict you.

Bottom line: Your only choice (in the vast majority of cases) at TVB is to (a) plead guilty (and i do NOT recommend you plead guilty under any circumstances at tvb) or (b) fight the ticket. The only way to avoid the fines, surcharges and other penalties is to fight.

Since most folks are not equipped to cross-examine a cop, it is wise to hire an attorney to defend you. Why? - Well, I can't know what you do for a living, but even the most challenging careers do NOT prepare you to effectively cross-examine a police officer. Those poor souls who try to defend themselves in traffic court are often surprised when they discover that the rules of this court are NOTHING like the courts you see on TV.

There are three advantages to having counsel. The first is we KNOW THE RULES OF THE GAME, so your odds of winning at TVB are much better with an experienced traffic lawyer. The second is convenience, because YOU NEED NOT APPEAR. You can go to work or school, or yoga, or lunch (my personal favorite) instead of coming to court. Third, your attorney can help to prepare your hearing so that your chances of success on an appeal are better. If you are facing suspension, this can be vital to your ability to continue working. More on this later in FAQ #8

Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (SCTPVA) is located at the H. LEE DENNISON BLDG, Ground Floor, North Entrance. The address is 100 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge NY 11788. Take the Grand Central / Northern State Parkway to the end (it becomes 347/454 and traffic lights begin. Make a right at the 4th traffic light. This court just opened for dispositions April 29 2013 to a rocky start. Progress has been slow and fitful. Bottom line: Fines average 2-3 times higher than any other court in the region. I still recommend hiring an attorney because it will be cheaper for you in the long run.

FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF SUFFOLK - If you are at First District, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that you are there because you have committed a CRIMINAL offense (such as DWI, reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed or aggravated unregistered) - criminal misdemeanors punishable by jail time! The good news is that your lawyer can usually work out a deal to reduce the charges without having a trial, but the bad news is that Suffolk first district court is rapidly becoming as bad as Nassau 1st District.

NASSAU COUNTY TRAFFIC & PARKING VIOLATIONS AGENCY / NCTPVA While penny-pinching on court fees has increased, this court has surely changed for the better since the last election. This place is a run by the wise, seasoned and respected Judge Marx.

Reasons to retain counsel at this court are several:

1 - CONVENIENCE: The sheer volume of tickets given on some of the busiest roads in America. If you are a busy working person - and who isn't? - Hire an attorney for this court. Some days at NCTPVA look like the line at Disney World on a summer weekend! It will save you a great deal of time, because in most cases you do not have to appear in person, and we usually make three appearances for you: one to answer, a second conference your case and a third to pay your fines and provide your receipt.

2 - NO TIME WASTED: Nassau P.D. writes so many tickets, that the ticket is often not in the courts system by the time you show up in court to answer. This means you could go to court based on the date printed on the ticket, only to be told come back again! That is why it is best to leave these matters to your attorney.

3 - TECHNOLOGY: While the court touts its improved phone access, I (and many of my clients) have found it difficult to get through to the court by telephone. I have found that the only way to reliably deal with this court is to do so IN PERSON, so my clients can have PROOF of every paper filed and fine paid for. They are often needed years later. This court could be more consistent. Often a question will have different answers from different people at this court and this can be frustrating. Lets hope for a computer upgrade. (and Vote Mangano! why? well I dont like to get party-political on this web site, BUT its a fact that before Judge Marx, the prior (Suozzi) administration had 2 awful newbies in charge of this court that made a mess of everything!)


FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF NASSAU - While the removal of certain Judges has improved conditions as of this writing in February of 2014, If you are at First District Court in Nassau, that's usually bad news. The bad news is that you are there because you have committed a criminal offense. The WORSE news is that the staff at this court is extremely strict and inflexible to defendants who seek to confer their case. Simple dispositions are still possible, but if you are seeking a trial, expect 2-3 years of delays. Things have gotten so bad here, with the scathing indictment of the crime lab and more recently of 3 top officials on the Nassau Police force I would go as far as to say this: THE SYSTEM HAS COMPLETELY BROKEN DOWN. Nothing happens at this court. Unprepared, lying ADA's just delay your case again and again until you give in and plead guilty. The newest scam is they're not even A.D.A.'s. They are law students on some kind of work-study thing. Not even real lawyers in the court room. Can we get any worse? The average case takes around two and a half years to get to trial and most folks simply cant afford to pay their lawyer to make the 24-36 court appearances required to get justice. The cops who make +$200K with overtime laugh all the way to the bank as defendants are sentenced to a never-ending series of court appearances at this "gulag" where people and cases go to ROT. More worrisome is that it tends to show an incestuous relationship between the bench and the prosecution.

As TWO of my knowledgable, well-respected, mentors likes to say "I wont appear there. It's a cesspool."

LOCAL TOWNS and VILLAGES- Every local town and village court is different. In most local village justice courts, your attorney can work out a deal to reduce the charges. Some village courts are very motorist-friendly and some are very strict. Most of them lie somewhere in between. Almost all are night courts.

FAQ 4 - I answered my ticket at First District Court. I wanted to plead guilty or settle the matter. The judge just got mad and yelled at me to come back with a lawyer. Why is the judge angry? What did I do wrong?

The judge sent you away because you are charged with a misdemeanor. Most traffic tickets are just "violations." A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail plus fines and/or probation. What's worse is that it will leave you with a CRIMINAL RECORD FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. The judge will not let you plead guilty to a misdemeanor without consulting with a lawyer. Neither the judge nor the A.D.A. can give you legal advice - they are there to prosecute you, not protect you. That is why the judge tells you very sternly to get out and come back with a lawyer. The judge is doing it for your own protection.

FAQ 5 - The cop who gave me the speeding ticket did not use a laser or radar device to measure my speed. Do I win?

No. Cops are trained to accurately estimate how fast you are going just by observing your car and estimating your speed. This evidence is admissible in court. At trial, laser and radar are most often used simply to confirm the visual estimate.

FAQ 6 - Does the cop who gave me the ticket have to prove his case "beyond a reasonable doubt"?

It depends on which court you're in.

The burden of proof in traffic cases at a 'DMV court' such as TVB is much lower than in criminal cases. The cop need only prove his case by "clear and convincing evidence" and that requires a whole lot less proof.

FAQ 7 - How do I know how many points I will get for a traffic ticket?

Click this link for the DMV POINTS SYSTEM Once you reach 11 points you can be suspended by DMV, though you need not reach 11 to be suspended. Some tickets, like driving without insurance, carry no points and can get you revoked for a year! Some Judges will suspend you for a single, high speeder. Under the VTL, town and village courts, though not TVB, can jail you for a single high speeder, but this is so rare that I hesitate to even mention it here.

FAQ 8 - I just lost my case at a TVB court! Is there anything I can do?

YES, You can file an APPEAL which we strongly recommend, ESPECIALLY IF YOUR LICENSE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED. This is a procedure by which you challenge the TVB judges decision, or the penalties, or both. BE WARNED, The TVB APPEALS BOARD is a misnomer. It is an appellate court in only the most tortured sense of the word. Real appellate courts are independent. The TVB Appeals Board, like the TVB court, is controlled by the DMV, which is exactly like the fox guarding the chicken coop. It is a political rubber stamp for confirming the TVB judges decision.

So why appeal? Because you can KEEP YOUR LICENSE during the appeal, which takes about a year on average.

If you decide to appeal, you MUST do so within 30 days of conviction. While you can fill out the forms and do this yourself, this is one of those areas where I STRONGLY recommend that you have the assistance of counsel. Even such minor points as how you phrase your request in the appeal form is important. That is why an appeal is something best left to your lawyer.


FAQ 9 - I have seen many scams on the internet before. How can I check on you to tell that you are a REAL lawyer?

I never thought I would have to answer this one, but it has come up a couple of times and it is a fair question considering all the crap on the net. I could post photos of my diplomas and licenses, but that just seems tacky, and they could be faked.

To confirm this quickly and efficiently, I suggest you visit the New York State Unified Court System web site at http://www.courts.state.ny.us and click on 'attorney directory'. They have an attorney directory listing every attorney in the state. You can look me up and see if the information there conforms with the information on my web site. I have intentionally NOT made a link here, so you can enter the web address yourself and be sure I did not create a fake link to a fake site.




FAQ 10 - Hey Dave, what are the NEWEST scams to take my money through the use of DMV and the traffic laws?

Glad you asked! Here's my top three:
#3) INCREASED MANDATORY NY STATE SURCHARGES OF $88-$93,
#2) a new $30 surcharge at NCTPVA, EVEN IF YOUR CASE IS DISMISSED and of course,
#1) The DRIVER RESPONSIBILITY ASSESSMENT (DRA) It took effect November 14, 2004. It says, in part, that if you get 6 points within 18 months, the DMV will whack you for an additional $100 per year for 3 years = $300 to keep your license. This is in addition to any fines and surcharges you pay on the tickets. Add $25 for each point above 6. The defensive driving class 4 point reduction DOES NOT APPLY TO THIS! If you fail to pay the assessment, your license will be suspended by mail to your last address on file with DMV.

Though you have 3 years to pay for these DRA's I strongly suggest that you pay the entire amount in one lump sum if you can. Why? - If you pay by installment, the DMV has 3 chances to suspend you for non-payment over the next 3 years. Pay all at once and they have 2 fewer chances to suspend you. I cant begin to tell you how many clients wind up in CRIMINAL court for driving around suspended for failure to pay the DRA.

Hey Dave... Isn't this punishing the motorist twice for the doing the same one thing? Isn't this unconstitutional double jeopardy? Damn skippy it is. But we have to live with it until some rich person spends twenty thousand dollars to appeal something that rarely exceeds $750. Even a lawyer can do the math on that one. Screwed again. Don't forget to thank your legislators in Albany for this piece of highway robbery.

Another twist on the "official" NY state DRA, courts have been making up their own BOOTLEG DRA's. In many courts, like SCTPVA, they just re-name their surcharges "Driver Responsibility Assessments," because the CORRECT WORD, "surcharge" sounds, so, well - dirty. But that's what it is - just another surcharge to pick your pocket a little bit more. Don't believe the hype.


FAQ 11 - What about those BOOKS I see advertised on the internet about how to fight tickets. Should I buy one?

No. These books are a huge waste of money and rarely prepare you for anything. Also, the rules at TVB - where most trials actually in this area - are so strict that most books on the subject are simply inapplicable. Don't waste your money on such books. They will never take the place of a Law school education and years of actual trial experience. Ask yourself - would you buy a book on surgery and try THAT yourself?

Also, the VERY BEST BOOK on the subject is the VTL itself, available at any DMV for six bucks!




FAQ 12 - I have a suspended license/registration, but I drive anyway. The cops can't pull me over unless they see me break the traffic laws or if they something wrong with my car-right?

Wrong. This years newest enforcement device is an optical SCANNER that reads license plates. They set these devices up on the highway and they can read the license plates on cars even while moving at highway speeds. Notice there are two so they can be set up to read plates on cars traveling in both directions at once! The license plate is recognized and and driving record of the owner, along with the registration of the vehicle is checked for suspensions.

All the cops have to do is wait until the device BEEPS and then you get pulled over. When you do get pulled over for driving with license or registration suspended, the ticket will often require you to appear in criminal court!




FAQ 13 - My cousin is a Real Estate / Divorces / Personal Injury / Bankrupcy / Attorney. Why shouldn't I use him to fight my ticket?

For the same reason you dont ask your dentist to operate on your foot. Other kinds of attorneys simply do not know the details of each different traffic court or how these convictions can affect you.

FAQ 14 - What is the difference between you and other attorneys?

Most attorneys do this kind of work as a sideline or as a favor to a client. Not me. Believe it or not, some lawyers who claim to be 'traffic court attorneys' never see your tickets, never check your driving records or see the information you send them! SOME DO NOT EVEN KEEP FILES OR RECORDS OF YOUR CASE!

You can recognize tell them by the simple fact that they appear in court with NO FILES in hand. This is because they are 'per diem' attorneys who work for other lawyers, so they don't have a file, never communicate with you or care what happens in your case! This kind of lawyering is reckless at best and verges on malpractice, but it happens every day. I have actually witnessed attorneys who go to trial and stipulate to (agree to accept) the officers credentials and speed estimation training without making the cop expressly state this required information!?! Then the 'attorney' will ask NO QUESTIONS on cross examination! Why? Because they don't care about you! They never meet you, or talk to you! They get paid by another attorney who never even sets foot in the courthouse. NEVER HIRE AN ATTORNEY WHO DOES NOT KEEP A FILE ON YOU. YEARS LATER YOU MAY NEED IT AND YOUR 'PER DIEM' ATTORNEY WONT HAVE IT!

Here's a hint on how to recognize these attorneys: Look at their address. Many of them try to hide it. If their office is in Manhattan, Tonawanda, Albany, White Plains, etc. (and I am not making this up - these are all actual top hits on a search of 'Long Island Traffic Ticket Lawyer' on Google!), they are not likely to be appearing in court for you at SCTPVA in Hauppauge, where my office is located! Your case will likely be sent out to someone you never hired or even spoke to.

OTHER HELPFUL LINKS


The DMV - New York State Department of Motor Vehicles

Download forms from DMV

Long Island Speed Traps to avoid

Back to traffic-lawyer.com home page

send me an email. NEW YORK CASES ONLY! Be sure to tell me WHAT COURT your ticket is in.



Back to Long Island Traffic Attorney Dave Kapps VTL page

or visit on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/davekappesq

The Law Office of David S. Kapp
527 Townline Rd, Suite 302
Hauppauge, New York 11788
Telephone (631) 348-0195

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