Driving is critical to most people’s daily lives. Whether it’s getting to work or buying groceries, most people need a driver’s license to run their errands. This makes the suspension of one’s driver’s license a serious problem.
Currently, New Yorkers can lose their driver’s licenses for offenses as trivial as failing to pay a traffic ticket. Between January 2016 and April 2018, 1.7 million New Yorkers had their licenses suspended over unpaid traffic tickets. These suspensions put people in a very difficult situation: either stop driving and risk losing access to daily necessities, or risk criminal charges by driving on a suspended license. Suspensions for unpaid tickets hit poor communities hardest because they’re less likely to be able to pay traffic fines.
Fortunately, the New York Senate and Assembly have recognized how harsh a punishment driver’s license suspension can be. Both chambers of the legislature recently passed a bill that would amend New York’s traffic laws so that someone’s driver’s license can’t be suspended just for a failure to pay a ticket. If Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law, it will provide much-needed relief to many struggling New Yorkers at risk of losing their right to drive.
How does the new bill differ from the current law?
Under current New York law, a person can lose his/her driver’s license for failing to pay a traffic fine within 60 days. The new bill would eliminate suspension as a punishment for failure to pay and would establish monthly payment plans instead. Under the payment plans, a driver will be responsible for paying either 2% of his/her income or $10 (whichever is more) per month. The payment plan can be adjusted if a driver’s financial circumstances change.
It’s important to note the bill only eliminates suspensions for failure to pay traffic fines and fees. A driver’s license can still be suspended for accumulating 11 points for traffic violations or for three speeding convictions in 18 months. In addition, failing to respond to a traffic ticket in a timely manner or show up on a scheduled court date can also lead to driver’s license suspension.
What should I do if I receive a traffic ticket?
If you’ve received a traffic ticket, you should contact an attorney. While the new bill would prevent your license from being suspended, you’d still be responsible for paying fees. The new payment plans do not reduce the amount due; they only spread it out over time. Plus, being convicted of a traffic offense can increase your car insurance premiums, potentially costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over time. Even though this bill would eliminate the harshest consequence of traffic tickets, it would still be better to avoid conviction or negotiate the charge down.
At Rosenblum Law, we’re experienced in dealing with traffic tickets. Email us or call 888-815-3649 for a free consultation today.