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Disobeying a Traffic Control Device in New York

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Written By 
Last updated 
January 12, 2023

Failure to obey a traffic control device is one of New York’s most common traffic violations. It’s also one of its broadest, covering “all signs, signals, markings, and devices” (NY VTL 153) placed by the government to control traffic. This violation can cost you a hefty fine and points on your license - not to mention insurance hikes. That’s why it’s essential to understand this type of ticket and get an expert attorney to help you fight it as soon as possible. 

What Does it Mean to Disobey a Traffic Control Device? 

Obedience to traffic control devices is covered under Vehicle and Traffic Law 1110, which states that “[e]very person shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device applicable to him.” More simply, the phrase ‘disobey a traffic control device’ means disobeying any sign, traffic light, or pavement marking on the road. Many drivers think ‘traffic control device’ only covers electronic devices, such as traffic lights, but this term truly covers any object intended to guide drivers. ‘Traffic control devices’ can include pavement markings, such as double-yellow lines; yield, stop, or ‘no-turn’ signs; and, of course, traffic lights. 

What Happens if You Disobey a Traffic Control Device?

The total fine for a disobeying a traffic control device violation in New York is $235.00 and 2 points on your driving record. For context, if you get 11 points on your license in an 18-month period, the government could suspend your license. You could also see an increase in your insurance rates. 

Tickets for this violation occur very often in New York. In one year alone, 269,710 people were ticketed for disobeying a traffic control device. In fact, it was the second-most ticketed issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Considered a Traffic Control Device?

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 153 defines a traffic control device as all “signs, signals, markings, and devices... placed… for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic.”

Here is a list of many traffic control devices: 

-Stop signs
-Yield signs
-Speed limit signs
-‘Do not pass’ signs
-‘No turn’ signs
-‘Do not enter’ signs
-‘Keep right/left’ signs
-‘One way’ signs
-‘No U-turn’ signs
-‘No turn on red’ signs
-Traffic lights
-Lane use control lights
-Edge and lane lines

Will Insurance Rates Go Up for Disobeying a Traffic Control Device?

According to New York Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 2335, insurance companies are permitted to increase their client’s insurance rates if the client committed “two or more moving violations” of any variety. That means that, while your insurance policy can’t raise your rates for this violation alone, if you have just one prior violation on your record, this ticket could tip you over the edge and force you to pay higher rates. 

Should You Fight a Ticket for Disobeying a Traffic Control Device?

Considering the fines, points, and insurance fees that can come with disobeying a traffic control device, it makes sense to fight this type of charge. Fortunately, subdivision (b) of the traffic control device law contains some useful language to help you do so. This section says that the charge cannot be enforced if the device was “not in proper position and sufficiently legible” at the time of the alleged violation. So, if you were charged for failing to obey a stop sign that was blocked, damaged, or in any way illegible, you have a good chance of fighting it. Not only do signs need to be in proper position and sufficiently legible: The arresting officer must be able to prove that they were so at the time of the alleged violation. 

In the case of People v. Cooper, a police officer witnessed a driver make an illegal left hand turn off an exit ramp. At trial, the police officer testified to his personal knowledge that left turns were prohibited at that location. However, he was unable to provide any factual information as to the visual details nor the location of the signs that prohibited left turns. 

The court requires the government to prove the following about any sign they claim was disobeyed: 

(i) That it was in place at the time of the alleged violation,

(ii) That it was sufficiently visible and legible to an ordinarily observant motorist,

(iii) That there was no police officer directing traffic,

(iv) The general location of the sign in respect to the intersection which it has been posted to control,

(v) A description of the sign which should include its height above ground, size, shape, color of letters or markings and any other relevant information that distinguishes the sign.

In this case, “even though the arresting officer saw the defendant disobey that device,” he could not provide the necessary proof and the charge was dismissed. 

While that case was successful, there are times when you’re better off accepting the charge. If you are caught speeding, sometimes the officer will issue a disobeying traffic control device ticket instead of a full speeding ticket. In this instance, you are much better off to accept the charge because a speeding ticket can cost up to $600 and will put a minimum of three points on your license, whereas disobeying a traffic control device puts a maximum of 2 points on your record. So, in contrast to a speeding violation, disobeying a traffic control device is a much more lenient charge and you may be better off to take it.  

If you were issued a speeding ticket, a skilled attorney might be able to get it reduced to a disobedience of a traffic control device violation saving you money and limiting points on your license.

What Should You Contact? 

If you have been charged with disobeying a traffic control device or with a speeding ticket, the attorneys at Rosenblum Law can help. Our team of aggressive New York traffic ticket attorneys will negotiate with the prosecutor and try to reduce your New York speeding ticket to one for disobeying a traffic control device. We have experience achieving favorable outcomes for our clients, even if it is not your first time receiving a ticket. E-mail or call 888-883-5529 today. 

Author Bio

Adam H. Rosenblum

Founding Attorney Of Rosenblum Law

Adam H. Rosenblum is an experienced and skilled traffic violations and criminal defense attorney. Mr. Rosenblum provides expert and aggressive representation to those facing points on their drivers’ licenses and the associated fines and surcharges.

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