Written by attorney David S Kapp


FAQ 1 - Should I plead guilty to my traffic ticket?

NO. Never plead guilty! I can't begin to tell you how many clients plead guilty to a first speeder and then wind up suspended because they get another one soon after. How your case is handled depends upon WHAT COURT you are to appear before and the facts of your particular case. In many courts we can get the charge reduced or dismissed, so NEVER PLEAD GUILTY! OK? If you are not sure, check the ticket - look at where the ticket tells you where to mail your "NOT GUILTY" plea to.

FAQ 2 - Where are the Long Island traffic courts? There are many different traffic courts on Long Island. IN NASSAU- There are 2 major traffic courts in Nassau. Both are located in downtown Hempstead. They are: NCTPVA (Nassau County Traffic & Parking Violations Agency) located at 16 Cooper Street and First District Court(the criminal court) located at 99 Main Street.

IN SUFFOLK- There are 2 major traffic courts in Suffolk. Most traffic tickets in Suffolk go to TVB (Traffic Violations Bureau) located at the Perry Duryea NY State office building at # 250 Route 347 Nesconset Hwy in Hauppauge. Other tickets can put you at First District Court(the criminal court) located at 400 Carleton Avenue in Central Islip. LOCAL TOWNS and VILLAGES- All over the island, there are local Town and Village Justice courts that handle traffic tickets and more.

FAQ 3 - What's the difference between these courts? Generally speaking, there are "good" and "bad" traffic courts. In the good ones, your attorney can go there get the charge reduced for you. In the bad courts, there are no deals. You must plead guilty or go to trial. Here is how the Long Island courts break down:

SUFFOLK TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS BUREAU - TVB- In Suffolk county at large, most tickets will put you at TVB in Hauppauge. The TVB system is used QUEENS and throughout the 5 boroughs NYC as well. TVB is usually the worst court to be in because there are, with a very rare exception, no plea bargains allowed, so you cannot plead guilty to a lesser charge. It's win or lose at TVB. To make matters worse, the BURDEN OF PROOF at TVB is LOWER than in criminal courts. TVB only requires proof by "...clear and convincing evidence" a much easier burden than proof "...beyond a reasonable doubt." This makes it easier to convict you. Bottom line: Your only choice (in the vast majority of cases) at TVB is to (a) plead guilty (and i do NOT recommend you plead guilty under any circumstances at tvb) or (b) fight the ticket. The only way to avoid the fines, surcharges and other penalties is to fight. Since most folks are not equipped to cross-examine a cop, it is wise to hire an attorney to defend you. Why? - Well, I can't know what you do for a living, but even the most challenging careers do NOT prepare you to effectively cross-examine a police officer. Those poor souls who try to defend themselves in traffic court are often surprised when they discover that the rules of this court are NOTHING like the courts you see on TV. There are three advantages to having counsel. The first is we KNOW THE RULES OF THE GAME, so your odds of winning at TVB are much better with an experienced traffic lawyer. The second is convenience, because YOU NEED NOT APPEAR. You can go to work or school, or yoga, or lunch (my personal favorite) instead of coming to court. Third, your attorney can help to prepare your hearing so that your chances of success on an appeal are better. If you are facing suspension, this can be vital to your ability to continue working.


SUFFOLK TVB IS LOCATED inside the State Office Building in Hauppauge, 2nd floor. Take the Grand Central / Northern State Parkway to the end (it becomes 347/454 and traffic lights begin. Make a right at the 5th traffic light and follow the signs to DMV. 2nd floor. Bring ID or you wont get in.

FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF SUFFOLK- If you are at First District, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that you are there because you have committed a CRIMINAL offense (such as DWI, reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed or aggravated unregistered) - criminal misdemeanors punishable by jail time! The good news is that your lawyer can usually work out a deal to reduce the charges without having a trial.

NASSAU COUNTY TRAFFIC & PARKING VIOLATIONS AGENCY / NCTPVA With the Mangano victory, new management has just arrived. While penny-pinching on court fees have increased, this court has surely changed for the better. Reasons to retain counsel at this court are several: 1 - CONVENIENCE: The sheer volume of tickets given on some of the busiest roads in America. If you are a busy working person - and who isn't? - Hire an attorney for this court. Some days at NCTPVA look like the line at Disney World on a summer weekend! It will save you a great deal of time, because in most cases you do not have to appear in person, and we usually make three appearances for you: one to answer, a second conference your case and a third to pay your fines and provide your receipt. 2 - NO TIME WASTED: Nassau P.D. writes so many tickets, that the ticket is often not in the courts system by the time you show up in court to answer. This means you could go to court based on the date printed on the ticket, only to be told come back again! That is why it is best to leave these matters to your attorney. 3- TECHNOLOGY: While the court touts its improved phone access, I (and many of my clients) have found it nearly impossible to get through to the court by telephone. I have found that the only way to reliably deal with this court is to do so IN PERSON, so my clients can have PROOF of every paper filed and fine paid for. They are often needed years later.

FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF NASSAU- If you are at First District Court in Nassau, that's usually bad news. The bad news is that you are there because you have committed a criminal offense. The WORSE news is that the staff at this court are a group whose only goals seems to be incarcerating the populous, and extracting the maximum fine money, especially if you are poor or black. PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT WARNING! - ATTORNEYS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED NEVER TO CONFERENCE ANY CASE AT FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF NASSAU WITHOUT THE JUDGE BEING PRESENT.

LOCAL TOWNS and VILLAGES- Every local town and village court is different. In most local village justice courts, your attorney can work out a deal to reduce the charges. Some village courts are very motorist-friendly and some are very strict. Most of them lie somewhere in between. Most are night courts.

FAQ 4 - I answered my ticket at First District Court. I wanted to plead guilty or settle the matter. The judge just got mad and yelled at me to come back with a lawyer. Why is the judge angry? What did I do wrong? The judge sent you away because you are charged with a misdemeanor. Most traffic tickets are just "violations." A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail plus fines and/or probation. What's worse is that it will leave you with a CRIMINAL RECORD FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. The judge will not let you plead guilty to a misdemeanor without consulting with a lawyer. Neither the judge nor the A.D.A. can give you legal advice - they are there to prosecute you, not protect you. That is why the judge tells you very sternly to get out and come back with a lawyer. The judge is doing it for your own protection.

FAQ 5 - The cop who gave me the speeding ticket did not use a laser or radar device to measure my speed. Do I win? No. Cops are trained to accurately estimate how fast you are going just by observing your car and estimating your speed. This evidence is admissible in court. At trial, laser and radar are most often used simply to confirm the visual estimate.

FAQ 6 - Does the cop who gave me the ticket have to prove his case "beyond a reasonable doubt"? It depends on which court you're in. The burden of proof in traffic cases at a 'DMV court' such as TVB in NYC and SUFFOLK is much lower than in criminal cases. The cop need only prove his case by "clear and convincing evidence" and that requires a whole lot less proof.

FAQ 7 - How do I know how many points I will get for a traffic ticket? Click this link for the DMV POINTS SYSTEM Once you reach 11 points you can be suspended by DMV, though you need not reach 11 to be suspended. Some tickets, like driving without insurance, carry no points and can get you revoked for a year! Some Judges will suspend you for a single, high speeder. Under the VTL, town and village courts, though not TVB, can jail you for a single high speeder, but this is so rare that I hesitate to even mention it here.

FAQ 8 - I just lost my case at a TVB court! Is there anything I can do? YES, You can file an APPEAL which we strongly recommend, ESPECIALLY IF YOUR LICENSE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED. This is a procedure by which you challenge the TVB judges decision, or the penalties, or both. BE WARNED, The TVB APPEALS BOARD is a misnomer. It is an appellate court in only the most tortured sense of the word. Real appellate courts are independent. The TVB Appeals Board, like the TVB court, is controlled by the DMV, which is exactly like the fox guarding the chicken coop. It is a political rubber stamp for confirming the TVB judges decision. So why appeal? Because you can KEEP YOUR LICENSE during the appeal, which takes about a year on average. If you decide to appeal, you MUST do so within 30 days of conviction. While you can fill out the forms and do this yourself, this is one of those areas where I STRONGLY recommend that you have the assistance of counsel. Even such minor points as how you phrase your request in the appeal form is important. That is why an appeal is something best left to your lawyer.


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