If you have been pulled over for a speeding ticket in New York, than you know that there are significant costs attached to it. The fine on a New York speeding ticket can range anywhere from $150 – $600 with an additional $88 or $93 surcharge added before all is said and done. Most of the generated revenue goes directly to the local municipality or town in which the ticket was issued.
The state generates revenue because almost all tickets have a mandatory $88 or $93 surcharge which goes directly to the state. In addition, when a motorist reaches 6 points on their NY license they are fined a Driver’s Responsibility Assessment which is $100/year for 3 years at 6 points. An additional $25/year for 3 years will be added for each additional point over 6.
Except for Traffic Violations Bureau cases, city, town and village courts allow for plea bargaining on speeding tickets. Plea bargaining is the process of negotiating an agreement with the prosecutor which results in the defendant (person being charged with a violation) pleading guilty to reduced or less serious charge. The reason that prosecutors and courts allow for plea bargains is because it allows both sides to avoid the added costs in carrying a case to trial. A plea bargain benefits both the defendant and the prosecution to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
For example, a defendant can be charged with going 21 mph speeding ticket in New York which equals 6 points and $300 in fines. The prosecutor needs to prove their case to sustain a conviction, which means that the complaining witness (the police officer that pulled you over) needs to testify and establish that you are in fact guilty of the charge. To allow for cases to move along faster and save from costly litigation fees the prosecutor will cut a deal for the defendant as long as the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser charge. One option is for the prosecutor to reduce it to VTL 1201-a or “Parked on Pavement”. This offense carries a maximum fine of $150 and only a $25 New York State surcharge.
Governor Cuomo argues that since a majority of village and town municipal court plead down speeding tickets to 0 point parking tickets, millions of dollars in funds that the state should generate through speeding tickets gets wiped away.
As a result, Governor Cuomo has proposed a bill that will prohibit prosecutors from pleading down any speeding violation over 20 miles per hour to a 0 point offense. Since the plea bargains will be limited to points-carrying offenses, and those tickets all carry the mandatory NYS surcharge, the state will gain over $50 million a year in revenue. While the proposed law appears harsh, it does state that a prosecutor and court may allow a reduction to ‘another’ [0-point] offense but the reason for the reduction needs to be put on the court record. In addition, since speeding tickets of more than 20 miles per hour can still be reduced to offenses with fewer points, and the amended law permits 0-point reductions for speeds of 20 miles per hour over the limit or less, lawyers who handle traffic violations can still get a good deal for their clients.
Watch our blog for updates on this important legal development.