According to a recent report, being issued a cell phone ticket will all but guarantee that you’ll be facing points and/or fines on your driving record. Here’s how to avoid or minimize the impact.
In 2013, over 215,000 cell phone tickets were challenged in New York State courts. Of those, 135,738 (or 63%) resulted in guilty-as-charged convictions. Another 26% of such violations resulted in convictions for other driving offenses. That means for most people if you are issued a cell phone violation there is an 89% chance of winding up with some sort of a conviction.
Where you get your ticket has a significant impact on the potential outcome of your case. Certain jurisdictions within New York State, such as New York City, are governed by the Traffic Violations Bureau or TVB. Unlike most other courts, TVB courts do not allow for plea bargaining—the only way to challenge your traffic ticket is to hold a trial where you will be found either guilty or not guilty.
In these cases, a traffic ticket attorney really gives you the best chance to get the ticket dismissed. An experienced attorney can present all of the evidence and cross-examine the testifying officer to poke holes in his or her story. When individuals represent themselves in court, it often comes down to a he-said-she-said between the defendant and the police officer—and the judge almost always sides with the officer.
Even in courts that do allow for plea bargaining, Judges are reluctant to allow defendants to avoid points entirely. As more and more evidence shows the dangers of talking or texting while driving, police and courts are cracking down. In June 2013, New York State increased the penalties for mobile device tickets to 5 points. And just last month, fines were raised to a maximum of $200 for first-time offenders and up to $450 for repeat offenders.
Along with the fine increases, lawmakers established harsher penalties for young / new drivers caught on a mobile device. Drivers under the age of 21 convicted of a violation will have their permit or junior license suspended for up to 120 days. A second conviction within 6 months will result in a loss of license for an entire year. This punishment is meant to send a clear message that cell phone violations will not be tolerated.
To avoid a cell phone conviction in these non-TVB cases, plea bargaining to a lower offense is often your best bet. An attorney can assess your individual situation and determine if there is enough evidence to get your ticket dismissed. If a dismissal is unlikely, experienced attorneys can lean on their history with each court, professional courtesy, and the legitimate threat of taking the case to trial to negotiate a better plea bargain than you could yourself.
If you have been ticketed for a cell phone violation, call Rosenblum Law at 888-883-5529 for a free consultation. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best plea bargain possible or have your ticket dismissed altogether.