You probably see the signs all the time. They read, “State Law: Fines Doubled for Speeding in Work Zones.” If you receive a NY traffic ticket for speeding in a work zone or construction zone (i.e. violating VTL 1180f), you could face serious consequences. Aside from incurring an even steeper fine, violating VTL 1180f carries with it other consequences that you should be aware of.
Under New York law, a “work zone” or “work area” is a location on a highway that is used or being occupied for highway work in which workers, vehicles, equipment, materials, supplies, excavations, or other obstructions may be present.
It is important to understand that actual construction work does not need to be in progress in order for the area to be considered a work zone. This means that speeding in an unoccupied work zone is just as much a violation of VTL 1180f as when construction is in full swing.
A work zone is usually marked off by orange barrels or cones and the work zone speed limit sign will also be orange. Remember, New York State law prohibits the speed limit in a work zone from being more than 20MPH under the usually posted limit and it cannot be less than 25MPH.
If you are caught speeding 11 to 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit in a work zone or construction zone, 4 points will be added onto your New York driver’s license, you will incur a double fine, and face a steep auto insurance hike.
Even if you exceed the speed limit by merely 1 MPH, you could face a severe auto insurance hike, 3 points on your driving record, and steep fines.
Many clients wonder why New York State is harsher on speeding in a work zone than speeding in any other area. Typically, this is done in order to reduce the likelihood of an accident. Statistics show that faster speeds in work zones lead to significant injuries not only to construction workers, but also to our fellow drivers. Additionally, slower speeds are needed in order to avoid accidents that could result from lane shifts or drastic speed reductions.
If you receive a second work zone speeding ticket within 18 months of your first, your license will be suspended unless you can successfully get out of the ticket.
Lastly, getting convicted for traveling 21 miles or more over the posted speed limit will require you to pay the New York State Driver Responsibility Assessment as well, which can be quite expensive (a minimum of $300).
Official Text of New York’s Work Zone Law
“(f) Except as provided in subdivision (g) of this section and except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with subdivision (a) or (e) of this section or when a lower maximum speed limit has been established, no person shall drive a vehicle through a highway construction or maintenance work area at a speed in excess of the posted work area speed limit. The agency having jurisdiction over the affected street or highway may establish work area speed limits which are less than the normally posted speed limits; provided, however, that such normally posted speed limit may exceed the work area speed limit by no more than twenty miles per hour; and provided further that no such work area speed limit may be established at less than twenty-five miles per hour.”
Common Defenses to Work Zone Speeding Tickets
It is absolutely vital to understand the difference between a “defense” and an “excuse.” A defense is a legal tool that allows you to get your ticket dismissed or lowered and involves a sound argument grounded in the law.
However, an “excuse” is essentially an admission of guilt with a supposed justification for the unlawful action.
Excuses will not hold up in a court of law or in negotiations with a prosecutor. In fact, most of them are entirely useless when it comes to getting you out of your traffic ticket. (e.g. “I needed to use the bathroom so bad that I needed to speed through the work zone to the nearest rest stop.”
Similarly a driver will sometimes say that everyone else was speeding in the work zone too, so he should not have gotten ticketed. This excuse will never hold up in court because the judge will look at it in two ways:
- First, the driver admitted to speeding in the work zone
- Second, the driver provided a non-legal explanation as a mere excuse that cannot absolve him of his actions
In contrast, a good traffic ticket attorney knows exactly how to mount a forceful defense to your work zone speeding ticket.
A common defense that is raised (whenever applicable) is that the driver was not given substantial notice of the work zone’s existence. In other words, if there were no cones or signs informing you that this stretch of highway has been deemed a “work zone,” you may be able to get out of the ticket or have it lowered.
This defense will almost always work if there literally was no signage whatsoever and no indication that a rational driver could use to help determine that it was a work zone (i.e. there were no work vehicles with blinking lights and cones/barrels were not around, etc.).
In Keller v. Kruger, 2013 NY Slip Op 23073 (Sup Court 2013) one of the parties submitted an affidavit (sworn statement) indicating that “the construction zone was clearly visible with road signs, traffic barrels, and good illumination.”
However, it can get trickier if there was a sign, but it was obscured by a tree or if some cones were present but not a lot. Nevertheless, even in this trickier case, a NY traffic ticket attorney will usually be able to help reduce your work zone speeding ticket to a lower offense.
Remember, the key to a successful defense against VTL 1180f is having an experienced traffic ticket attorney craft the argument and having the appropriate pictures and evidence ready for him or her to use in negotiations with the prosecutor.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or a loved one received a NY traffic ticket for speeding in a work zone, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm. He is an experienced NY traffic ticket attorney who can help reduce or dismiss your ticket. Call him today at 888-883-5529.