Drivers who get a traffic ticket in New York State will notice that the ticket says drivers must respond within 48 hours. This is not a lot of time and many drivers miss this deadline. This begs the question: Does this deadline matter? And what happens to drivers who miss it?
What Does it Mean to “Respond” to a Traffic Ticket?
Responding to a traffic ticket means entering a plea: either guilty or not guilty. Drivers who plead guilty admit that they committed the traffic violation noted on the ticket and agree to pay the fines and accept possible points on their license.
Entering a not-guilty plea means the driver denies that the charges and refutes the claim the he/she committed a traffic violation. Drivers who plead not guilty will have the opportunity to fight the charges in court. With the exception of the Traffic Violations Bureau, the court will usually allow drivers to negotiate the ticket down to a lesser charge.
What is the 48-hour deadline?
Technically, drivers are required to respond to a New York traffic ticket within 48 hours. VTL 1806 defines how drivers may enter a plea in response to a traffic ticket. The statute clearly states that drivers must reply within 48 hours.
The full statute reads as such:
Plea of not guilty by a defendant charged with a traffic infraction. In addition to appearing personally to enter a plea of not guilty to a violation of any provision of the tax law or the transportation law regulating traffic, or to a traffic infraction for the violation of any of the provisions of the vehicle and traffic law or of any local law, ordinance, order, rule or regulation relating to the operation of motor vehicles or motorcycles, a defendant may enter a plea of not guilty by mailing to the court of appropriate jurisdiction the ticket making the charge and a signed statement indicating such plea.
Such plea must be sent: (a) by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested or by first class mail; and (b) within forty-eight hours after receiving such ticket. Upon receipt of such ticket and statement, the court shall advise the violator, by first class mail, of an appearance at which no testimony shall be taken. If the motorist requests a trial, the court shall set a trial date on a date subsequent to the date of the initial appearance and shall notify the defendant of the date by first class mail but no warrant of arrest for failure to appear can be issued until the violator is notified of a new court appearance date by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and fails to appear.
What happens to drivers who miss the 48-hour deadline?
Most of the time, nothing happens. VTL 1806 requires drivers to respond within 48 hours but does not prescribe a penalty for missing the deadline. At most, drivers may get a notice in the mail stating they have missed the deadline to respond.
What is the real deadline to respond to a NY traffic ticket?
There is a second deadline listed on the ticket that requires drivers to “respond to or appear by.” This deadline is far more critical. Drivers who do not enter a plea or appear in court by that deadline can have their license suspended. Drivers from any state other than New York who fail to respond to a NY traffic ticket can have their right to drive in NY suspended. If the ticket was answerable to the Traffic Violations Bureau, failure to respond will usually result in a default conviction as well.
What should I do if I miss the 48-hour deadline?
Drivers who have already missed the 48-hour deadline but not the “respond to or appear by” deadline should enter a plea right away and send it in or hire an attorney who will do so. A qualified attorney can also appear in court on a driver’s behalf (in most cases) to help get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Who Should I Call to Help Me with My NY Speeding Ticket?
If you or a loved one has been ticketed for speeding in New York, it is advisable that you consult an attorney to help you avoid the fines, points, and insurance increases associated with a conviction. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in fighting tickets for speeding and other traffic violations. Call 888-883-5529 or email the Rosenblum Law today for a free consultation about your case.