Published: 6/1/19 | By: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq.
On April 21, 2018, Rochester officially dissolved its branch of the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB). The TVB, a judicial branch of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), is notoriously tough on drivers who are hit with traffic tickets. Preliminary data from the DMV for 2018 shows that the Traffic Violations Agency (TVA), which replaced the TVB, has been a welcomed break for drivers, who are tagged for speeding and other traffic violations.
Fewer Tickets, More Plea Bargains
According to preliminary data from the DMV, the number of traffic tickets written in Monroe County declined 11% between 2017 and 2018. Although traffic tickets have been trending downward in Monroe since 2009 (the earliest data available), 2018 represented the largest percentage decline recorded. The bulk of this decline occurred in Rochester. Police within the city issued just 36,038 traffic tickets, a 21% drop from 2017 (45,335 tickets).
Speeding tickets specifically followed a similar trend. County-wide, drivers received 11% fewer speeding tickets last year. Within the city of Rochester, speeding ticket issuance fell 19%.
Part of the reason for such a huge decline in tickets could be due to laxer enforcement by State Troopers. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of speeding tickets written by state police fell 43%. The overall number of tickets handed out by troopers declined by 33%.
Drivers who didn’t benefit from the reduced enforcement may have benefited from the new ability to negotiate their traffic tickets (a.k.a. plea bargain) in court. The DMV’s TVB does not allow drivers to negotiate deals to reduce speeding and other traffic violations to lesser charges, such as parking tickets, that wouldn’t affect auto insurance rates. When Rochester closed the TVB and opened the TVA, it introduced the ability to plea bargain.
As a result, the number of drivers in Monroe County, who had their tickets dismissed or were acquitted, fell from 11.8% to 8.4% between 2017 to 2018. However, the number of speeding tickets that were reduced to non-speeding violations leaped from 48.2% to 67.8%.
Unique Trends in Monroe County Speeding Tickets
- Nearly one-quarter of drivers ticketed for speeding were also issued tickets for other offenses during the same traffic stop. The most common of these offenses were licensing violations, including driving with an expired license (VTL 509), which made up almost a third of all such “companion tickets” in Monroe County in 2018. It was followed by driving on a suspended license (VTL 511) and drunk or other impaired driving (VTL 1192).
- Lake-effect winds and the county’s high latitude means drivers often face chilly, snowy winters. This may be one reason drivers are more frequently charged with imprudent speed; 3.8% of speeding tickets in 2018 were for this offense.
- Approximately 39% of drivers ticketed for speeding in Monroe County last year were women. This is above the state average of 35%.