Written by attorney Edward D. Dowling IV

Common Traffic Violations

In New York the Vehicle and Traffic Law ( V & T ) governs most offenses involving the operation of a Motor Vehicle on the Public roads and highways.

A Motor vehicle can be a scooter, moped, motorcycle, automobile, truck, and even a motor boat.

There are even statutes and laws for Boating While Intoxicated or Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol separate from Laws for Driving While Intoxicated or Under the Influence . A discussion of the details of these offenses is way beyond the scope of this article. ( Perhaps it will be the subject of another article in the future. )

Violations of the V & T Law can either be Violations ( not a crime ), a Misdemeanor or Felony ( both are crimes ) ( felonies usually involve a repeat offender of Driving While Intoxicated or Under the Influence with or without an accident whether someone is injured or not.

Some of the most common violations other than Driving While Intoxicated or Under the Influence are :

1) Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle- This means a person commits the violation of Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle more than once. A person who does this several times is sometimes referred to as a " Scoff Law “ (because he repeatedly disobeys the law- Scoffs at it ). A Scoff law person usually has a difficult time in court because he must clear up his driving record ( by paying numerous fines ) before he can even attempt ( with the help of his attorney ) to negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the prosecutor. ( Usually Scoff law people have one or more misdemeanors since aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor and are in a criminal court instead of a Traffic Violations Bureau which does not have jurisdiction over misdemeanors or felonies.)

2) Driving without Insurance. If the driver had insurance at the time but did not have the insurance cards with him, this charge can be dismissed on proof by providing the prosecutor a letter from the insurance company stating that there was no gap in coverage and the driver was insured at the time in question. If the Driver did not have insurance at the time, then he should hire an attorney to negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the prosecutor.

3) Driving an Unregistered or Uninspected Vehicle. If the vehicle is registered and inspected but the driver failed to affix the new registration or inspection stickers to the windshield, these charges can also be dismissed upon proof that the vehicle was registered and inspected. If the Vehicle was not registered and/or inspected at the time of the offense, then the driver should hire an attorney to negotiate a plea bargain.

4) Speeding and Excessive Speeding. Speeding is exceeding the legal posted speed limit. Excessive speeding is exceeding the posted limit by 10 or more miles per hour. Depending on the amount of miles per hour over the limit, points are issued against the driver’s license. If the driver receives 11 points the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can revoke the driver’s license. Also if the driver receives 3 speeding tickets within 18 months of each other, the DMV can revoke the driver’s license.

There are many more violations of the V & T Law too numerous to mention, but some of the more common ones are : Talking on a Cellphone ( without a hands free device) ; Texting ; Following too closely ( Tailgating ); Failure to Maintain Vehicle in Lane ( weaving in and out of lane ) ; Reckless Driving ; Failure to Signal when changing lanes ; Failure to obey traffic signals; Failure to stop at a stop sign; Failure to come to a complete stop before making a right turn on a red light ( many intersections now have Red Light Cameras which take a picture as you are approaching and as you are leaving the intersection- it is very difficult to defend against this charge since the courts have the technology to show the video in court ); missing or non or mal functioning equipment such as lights etc.

If you have a lot of points and/ or serious charges you should hire an attorney to represent you. If it is a minor traffic infraction and you do not have a l0t of points and are not in danger of having your license suspended or revoked or other negative consequences and you are not contesting the charge, then you may want to just pay the fine and save the expense of hiring an attorney.

The best course of action is to not Drink ( or use Drugs ) and Drive, not Talk on Cellphone (it is a distraction even with a hands free device ), do not Text and Drive , and do not be distracted by anyone ( such as another passenger ) or anything; and anticipate that other drivers may be distracted or not paying attention and will do something unexpected suddenly without warning. Expect the unexpected, pay attention and do not do anything other than drive the vehicle ( Do not Multi-task ).

Watch for future articles on Criminal and Civil Law.

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