Law Office of Lynne A. Papazian
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Albany Legal Issues Blog

Understanding New York's driver point system

Unlike certain other states, New York has a Driver Violation Point System. This gives the state's Department of Motor Transportation a way to identify high-risk drivers so that the appropriate action can be taken against them. Under this point system, certain common traffic violations have been assigned points. If a driver gets 11 or more points in an 18-month period, his or her driving privileges may be suspended.

Before the points are added to a driver's record, the person must be convicted of the applicable traffic violation. However, the point total is calculated based on the day the traffic violation was committed and not on the day that the person is convicted. The points that the driver received within the last 18 months are used to figure the point total. This means that violations that occurred more than 18 months ago will not contribute to the driver's point total.

High-speed chase of BMW in New York results in crash

According to law enforcement authorities with Nassau County, a 28-year-old man who the highway patrol attempted to pull over for speeding on the Long Island Expressway fled. The man reportedly missed his turn while he was fleeing and crashed into a veterinary clinic.

Officers report that the incident happened shortly before 1 a.m. while the man was speeding in his BMW in the westbound lanes of the expressway. While he was fleeing from the patrol officer, he got off the expressway at exit 37 but missed his turn when he turned onto Mineola Avenue, causing him to crash into the veterinary clinic.

Driver's license violations

As with every other state in the nation, it is illegal to drive in New York without a valid driver's license. However, there is a distinction made between driving a vehicle without having proof of a license and driving a vehicle with no valid license. Operating a vehicle with the knowledge that one's license is invalid in some way, such as being suspended, is a more serious offense.

There are different penalties a driver may suffer if they are operating with no license or fail to provide a license when pulled over by law enforcement. The driver may be issued a ticket, have their vehicle impounded or even sent to jail.

Traffic enforcement program aims to curb dangerous behavior

Until June 3, police in New York are taking part in the "Click It or Ticket" campaign aimed at getting motorists to use their seat belts. They will be joined by authorities in Vermont who will also be looking to make sure seat belts are worn in that state. In 2016, 57 percent of fatal car accident victims between the ages of 18 and 34 were not wearing their seat belts.

Overall, 90 percent of New York drivers wear their seat belts while 85 percent of drivers in Vermont buckle up. In New York, a person can be pulled over simply for not wearing a seat belt. On the other hand, this can only be cited as a secondary offense in Vermont. According to New York authorities, the "Click It or Ticket" campaign has saved hundreds of lives as well as prevented injuries. Police in both states will also be looking to enhance enforcement of speeding and distracted driving laws.

Strategies for fighting traffic tickets

For some drivers in New York, traffic tickets could be extremely expensive. Other drivers may walk away with points against their license, which could result in an increase in their insurance premiums or even a license suspension. However, there are some ways that drivers who have been ticketed can challenge the violation.

If the ticket involved the use of an officer's personal opinion, drivers could potentially challenge the judgement. For example, a driver could argue that a lane change was safe based on the traffic conditions and the weather at the time. If a driver received a speeding ticket, he or she may be able to argue that going faster than the speed was safe due to the speed of the other vehicles. Some drivers may also be able to challenge the traffic ticket by arguing that the ticketed driving was necessary to prevent an accident. For example, this defense could be used if the driver had to make a sudden lane change to prevent being hit by another car.

New technology helps contest parking tickets

New York motorists may be able to contest parking tickets using services that help them identify whether there were extenuating circumstances that mean the tickets should be dismissed, but opponents of these services say they could cause people to game the system. There is also concern that they will reduce revenue.

The services, which range in price and areas of availability, may look at issues such as whether the sign about parking violations was difficult to read or might address errors such as inaccurately writing down a code or the color of a car. These types of errors can add up. For example, when approximately 500,000 New York City parking tickets were handed out with a zero missing from the ordinance cited, the city announced that it would be refunding $26 million in fines.

How to challenge radar gun evidence

A radar gun is a tool that police officers may use to determine how fast a vehicle is traveling. In some cases, it can be used as evidence that a car or truck was exceeding the speed limit. However, like any tool, it can provide inaccurate information, and it is possible to challenge a radar gun reading in court. An individual may assert that the device was not properly calibrated or tested.

Ideally, a radar gun will be calibrated after each use. Furthermore, the gun should be calibrated using the tuning fork to ensure that it is done correctly. If it is not done often enough or in the proper fashion, a driver could argue that any reading it produces is flawed. Drivers might obtain maintenance records to prove that a radar gun was not properly tested prior to being used in a given case.

Study finds New York City lets repeat traffic offenders slide

New York City's use of camera-issued traffic tickets may be letting repeat traffic offenders off the hook, according to an analysis by its Office of Comptroller. The report was issued in the wake of several high-profile car accidents, including one that claimed the lives of two children.

According to the report, more than 121,000 cars have been issued five or more tickets for running lights and/or speeding near schools while driving in the city over the last 26 months. Of those cars, 24 have been issued over 50 citations. The report also calculated that repeat offenders commit 46 potentially fatal traffic violations each hour in the city, which adds up to more than 1,100 dangerous violations each day.

What to know about stop signs and red lights

Most New York residents understand what it means when they see a stop sign or a red light. However, there are times in which a motorist may not come to a complete stop or deliberately disobey the rule. Drivers may be cited if they perform a rolling stop or do not adhere to right-of-way laws in the jurisdiction where the infraction takes place.

In some cases, a traffic light will have a red arrow in place of or addition to a red light. Drivers may not make a turn at a red arrow. If a driver violates the law, they could be pulled over by a police or have their picture taken by a traffic camera. All 50 states have laws regarding drivers who fail to obey a traffic light or stop sign.

New York distracted driving laws: stricter than you might expect

Driving used to be simpler. Aside from your screaming kids in the back seat and the hot coffee in your cup holder, you could focus most of your attention on the road. But as technology has advanced and your personal devices have started following you everywhere you go, your connectivity to our family and friends is virtually limitless.

Since the advent of smartphones, crashes resulting from distracted driving have skyrocketed. In New York, distracted driving killed 160 people and injured more than 33,000 in 2015 alone.

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