Drivers Can Withdraw Guilty Pleas: Here’s How

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Sometimes drivers plead guilty to New York traffic tickets by accident. Other times a person may do so without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. In either case since a guilty plea to a New York traffic ticket is equivalent to a conviction, a person who pleads guilty can face points, fines, increased auto insurance and in some cases even license suspension or revocation. For example, a plea can bring the driver’s point total to 11 or more, or mean a third speeding conviction (or second work zone speeding ticket) in 18 months.  The good news is that there is a chance for someone to request withdrawal of a guilty plea. Drivers who wish to withdraw a guilty plea can do so by filing a Motion to Vacate.

What is a Motion to Vacate and Will it be Granted?

A Motion to Vacate (also known as a Coram Nobis motion) is a legal procedure in which the traffic court is asked to withdraw or undo the guilty plea.

There are several reasons why a judge would vacate a guilty plea. One is that the driver was unaware of the long-term consequences of the plea. Another is that they weren’t guilty but didn’t know how to effectively dispute the ticket or they were under the impression that they would have to appear in court which was not practical for them for whatever reason.

Regardless of the reason, it is best to hire an attorney with experience filing motions to vacate; he/she will know how best to state the facts and construct an explanation that has the best chance of convincing the judge to grant the motion.

How to Withdraw a Guilty Plea in NY

Filing a Motion to Vacate is best done with the aid of an attorney. He/she will prepare the motion papers and send them to the court as well as a send a copy to the prosecutor.  If the prosecutor responds and opposes the motion, the attorney will have the option to reply to the opposition. If motion is granted, the conviction will be removed from the person’s driving record and a driver whose license was suspended as a result of the conviction will have their license restored. However, in some cases, having the motion granted means the driver will now have to fight the charge anew, and may even have to do a trial. However, it is possible for an attorney to file the motion and then contact the prosecutor to arrange a plea deal or reduction of the charges. Again, having an attorney by one’s side in this process is invaluable since it increases the odds of a dismissal or a reduction to a lesser charge.

Remember that it is in the judge’s discretion to whether or not reopen the case. There is also no specific time frame for the judge to rule on the motion. Sometimes a judge will take only a few weeks to decide while others can take a few months or longer.

Withdrawing Guilty Pleas at the Traffic Violations Bureau – NYC

The NYS DMV Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) does allow drivers to file a request to vacate a conviction. The application must be submitted to the TVB’s Appeal’s Unit. Drivers have only 30 days from the conviction to file the request. While there are no hard statistics, the rate of granting these requests by the TVB is said to be very low. Also note that the TVB does not negotiate traffic tickets, so if the plea is withdrawn, the driver’s only option is to fight the ticket in court and attempt to win a dismissal which should be handled by an experienced trial attorney.

Who Should I Contact to Withdraw a Guilty Plea in NY?

If you or someone you love wishes to withdraw a guilty plea for a traffic ticket in New York, contact an attorney with experience in these matters. Rosenblum Law has helped many drivers file motions to vacate. Our skilled traffic ticket attorneys can take care of filling out the paperwork and can help construct an argument that will maximize your chances of a positive result. If the motion is granted, we can also negotiate a reduction in charges or fight to have the ticket dismissed in court. Email us or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation.

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This post was written by Adam H. Rosenblum Esq.

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  • Keyshawn Francis
    June 27, 2019

    I paid for a traffic ticket by mistake without appearing before a judge. I didn’t realize the consequences of getting points on my license. I tried to withdraw from a guilty plea by trying to appeal the ticket within the 30 days but was rejected due to entering guilty on the ticket. Is there anyway I can fight it?

    • Ronen Cohen
      August 5, 2019

      Keyshawn, thank you for your inquiry. Where was this ticket received? It may be possible to file a motion withdrawing your guilty plea.

  • Jamillah Marie Harris
    December 13, 2018

    GD seeking to vacate guilty plea that I entered this past Tuesday December 11,2018 in Jersey City Municipal Court .

    • Ronen Cohen
      December 17, 2018

      Jamillah – We have had success in vacating guilty pleas. These motions, however, are highly fact sensitive. As such, we would need more details to better provide you with any estimate as to the potential outcome of such a motion.