Speed Not Reasonable and Prudent Tickets

Obscure Traffic Tickets You May Not Have Heard Of

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We all know that it is a traffic violation to exceed the speed limit in New York or to text while driving. But there are lots of different kinds of traffic tickets that many drivers are unaware of. Here is just a few:

Failure to use due care. New York Vehicle and Traffic Law statute 1146 defines a driver’s responsibility to use due care to ensure that no one is struck or injured by the vehicle. Even if a driver is otherwise obeying all other traffic laws if he/she strikes a pedestrian that’s failure to use due care. The same is true if he/she hits a domestic animal. However, wild animals don’t count. I once had a case where the officer ticketed the driver for hitting a wild turkey—unfortunately for the cop, that one didn’t count.

Fine: $150 Points: 2

Failure to reduce speed, special hazards. There are a few speed-related tickets a person can get even if he/she is driving at or below the limit. One is VTL 1180-e. This ticket applies when a driver does not slow down when approaching certain hazards, such as a railroad crossing or a sharp turn in the road. 

Fine: $150 Points: 3

Speed not reasonable and prudent. This another speed-related ticket. An officer can ticket a driver who is going faster than is reasonable for the road conditions, even if it’s well below the posted limit. An example might be during heavy rain or when roads are icy. This could also apply in areas where there is debris on the road, either from a weather event or construction (even if the area is not marked as a work zone). 

Fine: $150 Points: 3

Driving too slow. VTL 1181 describes two situations where a driver can actually be ticketed for going too slow, rather than going too fast. VTL 1181-a is for drivers whose speed is impeding the flow of traffic. VTL 1181-b can be issued to drivers going below a posted minimum speed like one might find on a highway.

Fine: $150 Points: 3

Failure to comply with a lawful order. A police officer who is directing traffic or otherwise issuing orders to vehicles can ticket a driver for not complying under VTL 1102. However, the burden is on the cop to say whether he gave the order, what it was, and how he said it. A driver could beat this ticket is he/she can disprove (or cast sufficient doubt) that the officer had issued a clear order, or if he/she can demonstrate that he/she had, in fact, complied with the order to the best of his/her ability based on traffic conditions. 

Fine: $150 Points: 2

Excessive noise. VTL 44(2) specifies the specific decibel levels that constitute excess noise. This is bad news for drivers who love their car’s sound system. The officers don’t usually cite the exact decibel level; instead, they’ll state that they could hear it from a certain distance or describe how the windows were shaking, etc. This can also apply to vehicles with broken mufflers or souped-up engines on car or motorcycles. 

Fine: $50 Points: 0

Unnecessary smoke. This ticket can be issued even if something is not broken. Unfortunately, VTL 375-28 doesn’t explicitly say how much smoke is too much. Unlike many equipment violations, this one 

Fine: $150 Points: 0

Failure to stop at malfunctioning traffic light. One would think that if the red light was broken then it wouldn’t need to be obeyed. But that’s not the case, according to VTL 1117. A driver approaching a broken traffic signal should treat it like a stop sign and come to a complete stop, only proceeding when it is safe. 

Fine: $150 Points: 3


Former Judge Deborah Hamsho, Esq. served as Administrative Law Judge and Senior Judge/Borough manager at the NYC Parking Violations Tribunal and Traffic Adjudications Judge at the Richmond County/Staten Island DMV office from 1995 to 2016. She is a certified mediator and a retired NYS general practitioner. She now lives in the beautiful Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, where she serves her new community, the township of Whitehall, as a mayoral appointee to the Town Board of Ethics.


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This post was written by Deborah Hamsho

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