traffic ticket
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By Michael Arbeit
Founding Attorney

Traffic violations are not something to be taken lightly. While they can have serious implications that last for a long time, if you receive a ticket in Long Island there is a great deal of hope. Most people who have received a traffic ticket ask if there is a way that the ticket can just be thrown out. In this article, we will discuss why you should never simply pay a traffic ticket, what plea bargain options exist, and the circumstances under which a traffic ticket may be thrown out.

Don’t EVER Just Pay a Traffic Ticket.

When you receive a ticket, it is very tempting to just mail in the money as instructed on the document you are given. Certainly, writing a check, placing it in the pre-addressed envelope, adding a stamp, and dropping it in the post box takes a lot less time than visiting with an attorney or contesting your ticket in court. This, however, is a mistake.

Suppose you are charged with speeding, mailing in a fine is a quick and relatively painless process. Insurance companies watch for traffic citations and often will raise your rates because you received points on your license. How much it goes up and for how long is at the discretion of your carrier. If insurance increases by as little as $25 per month for a year, you are looking at paying an additional $300.

Additionally, many times with criminal charges, a prior conviction can mean any future violations are dealt with significantly more harshly. In New York, a person arrested for their first DWI faces a maximum fine of up to $2,500 and or one year in jail. A second offense doubles the possible fine and increases the potential for imprisonment to four years. Even if there is not an enhancement prescribed in the law, prosecutors and judges are less likely to recommend or accept favorable outcomes if you have a long record of committing the same offense.

Most people who get tickets have various options to either contest the ticket or strike some sort of deal to lessen the offense. Since paying a ticket is the equivalent of pleading guilty, you should spend some time figuring out your options before doing so.

Plea Bargaining

Sometimes the only option you have is to plead guilty. That said, you have lots of options when it comes to doing that. Known as a plea bargain, a person who gets a ticket can enter a deal with the prosecutor to admit they were wrong in exchange for a lesser sentence. There are several scenarios in which this can happen.

  • Amended charges – The prosecutor has the authority to decide what you are charged with. Even if the ticket says that you are charged with speeding, for example, they could amend the ticket to defective equipment. This may be better for you. Additionally, if you are facing multiple tickets, they might decide to consolidate them into one.
  • Alternative Dispositions – An alternative disposition resolves your case without you having to admit guilt. There could be a ton of possibilities here, the most well-known of which is defensive driving. In some cases, if you complete a defensive driving course, the prosecutor will reduce your charge or dismiss it altogether. Another example may consist of finishing a certain number of community service hours. It is key here not to assume anything; if you are going to complete a program because you think it will convey some sort of benefit, make sure you know what you must do and what you are going to get upfront.

This can be very confusing and what options you have could depend on the prosecutor, judge, location, and numerous other factors. A lawyer who practices traffic law has experience with all these elements and can guide you through what options you have and how you can achieve your goals.

Getting Your Case Dismissed

It is a bit more challenging to make a ticket go away. First, the term dismissed means that you did not win your case rather the government has decided to stop pursuing charges against you. The whole advantage of a dismissal is that you don’t have the uncertainty of a trial but get the advantage of emerging with a clean record.

The biggest reason why traffic tickets get dismissed is that typically the government cannot make its case. Just like more serious crimes, you have a constitutional right to be proven guilty in a fair trial. In criminal proceedings, the government bears the burden of proof, meaning that it is its job to convince the judge that you are actually guilty of the charge. A defendant does not need to say or do anything and, should the prosecutor fail to produce enough evidence, the government may lose.

A Lawyer Can Help

At the end of the day, you must be ready to try the case. Many times, cases are dismissed on the eve, or even day, of the trial. The largest advantage a lawyer has is that they are skilled at organizing and presenting evidence to a court at a trial. Being able to fearlessly announce ready for trial is the biggest bargaining chip anyone can have when it comes to getting cases dismissed.

Michael A. Arbeit is an attorney who regularly handles criminal defense and traffic cases. The peace of mind that comes with having a skilled advocate in your corner is well worth the effort to obtain counsel. As discussed above, however, an attorney knows the law, has a relationship with the prosecutor, and is not afraid to take a case to trial if need be. The best part, Michael is responsive, routinely answering calls 24 hours a day, and will gladly speak to you about your traffic case as part of a free consultation. Contact us today.

About the Author
Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. is devoted to all Criminal Defense and  Traffic related matters.  Michael practices primarily in the Criminal and County (Supreme) Courts in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Kings County, New York County and the Bronx County.  Michael is also licensed to practice law in the Federal Courts of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and the Southern District of New York (SDNY).