Too many New York drivers opt to just plead guilty, pay the fine and never think about they’re traffic ticket again (well, until they receive an insurance premium increase or lose their license that is). Others pay the ticket simply because they don’t know how to go about fighting it. But too few consider hiring an attorney to fight the ticket for them. Most think that the cost of a traffic ticket is less than an attorney would charge to get it dismissed. This would be a mistake, as it underestimates both the financial and non-financial costs of a NY traffic ticket.
The exact cost of hiring an attorney to fight a NY traffic ticket will vary depending on the number of tickets issued during the traffic stop, the severity of the violation, the jurisdiction where the ticket or tickets were issued, and whether or not they anticipate multiple. In addition, like in any profession, fees will vary based on the experience level and ratings of the attorney, and the amount of time an attorney anticipates spending on the case. In our experience, most NY traffic lawyers charge an average of $500 for a single ticket case which of course will vary based the above factors. That being said, there are low-budget lawyers that charge as little as $250 per case and very experienced lawyers who charge upwards of $800 for a simple traffic ticket. Just remember that as with everything, the price you pay can determine the quality of what you get.
Traffic Ticket Costs
There are far more costs associated with a New York traffic ticket than most people think. These include:
Fine. This is the one expense most people are aware of. The fines for a ticket can run from just $45 to as much as $600, depending on the violation. Cell phone tickets and serious speeding tickets are among the most costly.
Surcharge. Anyone found guilty of a traffic violation in New York must pay a state surcharge. This will cost $88 or $93 depending on where the violation occurred. This is a per violation cost, so anyone who receives multiple tickets in one traffic stop will have to cover a surcharge for each one.
Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA) fee. When a driver reaches six points on his/her license as a result of traffic ticket convictions, he/she is required to pay this fee. DRA costs start at $300. Each point over six costs an additional $75. The DRA is in addition to the fine and surcharge and is paid directly to the DMV.
Auto insurance increase. Often the most expensive (and most often overlooked) expense is the increase in one’s auto insurance premiums that can result from a NY traffic ticket conviction. The exact impact depends on numerous factors, including the violation in question, past driving history, age, income, and more. For example, a single speeding ticket cause an increase of 12% to 30%. With most New Yorkers shelling out between $1,400 and $2,700 annually for auto insurance, one traffic ticket could result in an additional $168 to $810 per year for three years ($504 to $2,430).
Putting it all together, a single ticket for speeding 21 mph over the limit (a six-point offense) can cost $1,197: $300 fine + $93 surcharge + $300 DRA + $504 insurance increase.
Even in situations where a person spends more money on an attorney than they would on overall ticket costs, it can still be worth it to ensure the ticket does not end up on one’s driving record. That’s because of the numerous non-financial costs that can come with a conviction. This includes:
Risk of a suspended license. In New York, drivers who accrue 11 points on their license can have their driving privileges suspended. This applies even to those who are licensed to drive in another state. A person can also have their license revoked if they are convicted of three or more speeding (or two work zone speeding) tickets within 18 months. In addition to being unable to legally drive while the license is suspended or revoked, driver’s will have to pay a fee to in order to have it reinstated.
Loss of employment. Those who rely on their driver’s license to earn a living—including taxi and Uber drivers and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders—can put their jobs at risk by paying a traffic ticket in NY. Even those who need to drive simply to commute to and from work can end up losing their jobs as a result of suspension or revocation of their driving privileges.
The Cost of Time
The bravest drivers will often consider fighting the ticket themselves in court. This is a bold and often futile endeavor that will consume a great deal of one’s time only to have little chance of success. The fact is, the odds of beating a traffic ticket on one’s own is very slim. The internet is flooded with advice for how one can convince a judge to dismiss the charges; judges and prosecutors have heard them all and they almost always do not work.
Even if they did, a person will likely spend the better part of a day at the courthouse. Going to court means a lot of waiting:
- Waiting in the security line to enter the courthouse
- Waiting for instructions before entering the courtroom
- Waiting on line to talk to a prosecutor
- Waiting to speak to the judge
- Waiting to see the court clerk (depending on the situation)
- Waiting for a second (or third) court date if a trial is requested
- Waiting for the officer to show up if scheduled for trial
None of this takes into account situations such as when weather or an officer or judge’s illness forces a rescheduling of one’s court date—sometimes while people are in line waiting to be heard. Imagine taking a day off from work and sitting in court for six hours only to find out that the case is being postponed. This happens a lot more than most people think.
By hiring an attorney, drivers can potentially skip all this and stay home—in most cases, lawyers can appear in court in lieu of the client. This saves the driver the hassle of spending all day (or multiple days) in traffic court, and ensures that he/she does not have to take time off from work or arrange for care of dependents and/or pets.
The Cost of Gambling
At the end of the day, the odds of beating a NY traffic ticket are much smaller for the average person than they are for an attorney. An experienced attorney will know when it makes sense to attempt to get the charges dropped and when to negotiate with prosecutors to have the charges reduced. Their knowledge of the law and familiarity with judges and prosecutors themselves ensure that their arguments are taken seriously, which further increases the chances of a favorable ruling.
If you or someone you love has been ticketed for a traffic violation in New York, do not pay it! Instead, consult with a skilled attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation today.