Blocking The Box

By: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq. | Last Updated:

Stand at a street corner in New York City for only a few moments and you will quickly realize that everyone is on the move. People are headed in every direction to get where they are going as quickly as possible and by any means possible. The only problem is that in a city with over eight million residents and millions more that commute to work or are on vacation, driving through the crowded streets is a very slow process. What makes matters worse is that New Yorkers are known for being some of the angriest and most aggressive and reckless drivers in America.

Blocking the Box in NYC

Vehicles and pedestrians “blocking the box” at the intersection of 1st Avenue and 57th Street in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blocking the box can cause major traffic

During rush hour when people need to get to work the picture above is happens daily and has made driving in the city a problem for years. Lawmakers and other elected officials in New York have worked on fixing the issues to make sure driving in the city works as safe and efficiently as possible.

What is New York’s blocking the box law?

To keep things moving smoothly and reduce gridlock as much as possible, signs are posted at most busy intersections in the city that say “Don’t Block the Box”. Blocking the box or the New York gridlocking law is outlined in Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 1175, which prohibits drivers from entering an intersection when there is not enough room beyond the far cross walk to proceed without blocking the intersection. Motorists that are stuck in the middle of an intersection end up obstructing the flow of traffic coming in the other direction. If you are caught blocking the box you will be handed a summons and have to pay a substantial fine.

How does blocking the box affect my license?

For years blocking the box violations were classified as moving violations, carried a maximum fine of $150 and 2 points on your license. A moving violation coupled with points can have a negative effect on your insurance. In 2008 however, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recommended to the New York State Legislature that blocking the box violations carry no points and have the dual status as both a moving violation and parking violation. The Mayor’s recommendation was based on the observation that the process of pulling someone over for several minutes to run someone’s license and registration and hand out a ticket (in some cases more) in the streets of New York only added to the traffic congestion problem.

How will the change in law affect my driving in New York City?

Before this change in legislation, only police officers were allowed to issue tickets for violations of VTL § 1175. Now that it is also classified as a parking ticket, both police officers and parking enforcement agents are able to issue tickets for blocking the box. For drivers in New York City this means that there are many more eyes watching for blocking the box violations and these enforcement agents do not need to pull you over to be given a ticket. Traffic enforcement agents are equipped with handheld devices, so they can enter your license plate and mail you the ticket later. The new system reduces the severity of the fine to $115 with no points however you can expect many more tickets being issued each year.

Should I hire an attorney?

If you received a ticket in the mail or were pulled over for blocking the box in New York City, contact an aggressive NY traffic attorney like Adam H. Rosenblum of Rosenblum Law. Our team of lawyers may be able to negotiate a more favorable outcome to avoid paying excessive fines. Email or call us today at 888-883-5529.