Under New York City Traffic Rules Section 4-13, commercial trucks driving in the five boroughs of New York City (the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island) are required to follow predetermined routes. Drivers may only deviate from these routes for local delivery or pickup. Those who do not comply and/or venture too far off the truck routes will face heavy fines, points, and other penalties.
What Are the Penalties for Going Off Truck Route in NYC?
Fines: A ticket for going off NYC’s truck route costs $250 for a first offense. A second offense in 18 months raises the fine to $500, and a third offense in 18 months costs $1,000.
Points: New York will assess 2 points against one’s commercial driver’s license following a conviction for driving off the NYC truck route.
Surcharge: In addition to the fine, truckers are required to pay an $88 surcharge per ticket upon conviction for a NYC truck route ticket.
Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee (DRA): Truckers who accrue six or more points in 18 months in New York State as a result of traffic convictions can be required to pay an additional fine known as the Driver Responsibility Assessment fee (DRA). This penalty costs $300 plus $75 for each point after six. This fee is paid to the DMV and, like the surcharge, is in addition to fine.
Insurance increases: A truck route ticket in NYC has the potential to impact one’s trucking insurance. While there is no data that indicates how much one’s insurance can increase, given the average annual insurance rate for truckers can go as high as $8,000 to $12,000 annually, even a modest 5% increase can mean hundreds of dollars more per year for several years.
How to Defend a NYC Truck Route Ticket
Beating a truck route ticket in New York City is difficult. All VTL offenses committed in NYC are answerable to the Traffic Violations Bureau, a judicial unit of the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. Unlike other courts in New York State, the TVB does not allow for plea bargains or negotiations—a driver’s only choice is to take the ticket to trial at which he will be found either guilty or not guilty of the violation. Moreover, the burden of proof needed to convict a person in TVB is lower than in other courts in the state.
Therefore, a trucker who wishes to defeat a NYC truck route ticket must argue the merits of the charge. For example, a trucker may leave the route in order to make local pickups and deliveries. If the truck driver can prove that he/she was off route for such a purpose, then the ticket can be dismissed. A similarly defensible reason for being off the truck route would be due to roadwork or street closure that required the driver to take a detour before returning to the route.
Why It Pays to Hire an Attorney for NYC Truck Route Tickets
A trucker’s CDL is his livelihood. Any ticket that results in points can affect both one’s auto insurance and increases the risk of having the CDL suspended. Given the challenge of beating any kind of traffic tickets in NYC, it is critical that truckers hire an attorney to defend against truck route tickets or other violations. An attorney will know how best to present the case so as to maximize the chances of a dismissal. Experienced attorneys may also know many of the judges and officers (who act as prosecutors in the TVB); these relationships ensure that their arguments are taken seriously and further bolster the chances of beating the charge.
Common Questions About NYC Truck Route Tickets?
Can trucks drive on expressways in NYC?
Yes. Trucks and other commercial vehicles are permitted on any highway designated as an expressway. This includes the Cross-Bronx Expressway, the Long Island Expressway, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
However, in most cases, commercial vehicles are not allowed on any roadway designated as a parkway. This would include:
- Belt Parkway
- Bronx River Parkway
- Cross Island Parkway
- F.D.R. Drive
- Henry Hudson Parkway
- Hutchinson River Parkway
- Jackie Robinson Parkway
- Korean War Veterans Parkway
- Mosholu Parkway
- Ocean Parkway
- Pelham Parkway
What vehicles are required to use truck routes in NYC?
According to the statute, vehicles that must use truck routes include “any vehicle or combination of vehicles designed for the transportation of property, which has either of the following characteristics: two axles, six tires; or three or more axles.” A commercial vehicle that does not meet this definition is not limited to the use of the truck route network. However, it must obey any marked signage regarding commercial vehicles.
What is the difference between a truck and a commercial vehicle?
As mentioned above, NYC traffic rules define a truck as a vehicle with two axles and six tires or three or more axles. A commercial vehicle is defined as a vehicle that:
- bears commercial plates, and
- has been permanently altered to facilitate the transportation of property, and
- displays the registrant's name and address in characters at least three inches high on both sides of the vehicle.
Where can I find a map of NYC truck routes?
The NYC Department of Transportation offers a free PDF map of truck routes. Truckers can also request printed copies by mail at the link above.