traffic ticket on car
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By Michael Arbeit
Founding Attorney

For most people, getting a speeding ticket is scary enough. The fact that they have to go to court, talk to a judge, and, possibly, may find themselves in more trouble is terrifying. Like oversleeping for school, the only thing worse than having to go to something as serious as a court would be feeling unprepared to do so. When it comes to traffic tickets, a lot of information is contained in that little piece of paper. What is a person to do if it gets lost or destroyed? We will discuss that question today.

What do you do if you have lost your traffic ticket? Like most things in the law, the answer is that it depends. There are two things to consider: where the incident occurred and what the charge was.

Where the ticket was issued

Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear a particular case. One of the requirements for a court to have jurisdiction is for the incident resulting in the court case to have occurred within the geographic territory served by the court. For traffic tickets, this means that the place where the ticket was issued, or where a person allegedly violated the traffic laws, defines which court the ticket is in. Ultimately, this comes down to whether you were in New York City or some other village or township. 

In New York City

New York City is serviced by the Traffic Violation Bureau. This specialized administrative agency handles traffic tickets to free up the courts for more serious matters. People issued tickets in the big apple have to act quickly, as they have only 15 days to enter a plea. Those who fail to enter pleas within 15 days face suspension of their license. If you have lost your ticket, don’t worry: there are a few easy ways to make sure you are not missing your deadlines.


If you need to replace a lost ticket, you can obtain a copy of it by completing an online form. This form will ask for the ticket number and some identifying information. When you complete the form, you will be able to download a copy of your ticket, enter a plea, pay fines, and request a hearing. If you have forgotten your ticket number, then you still have options: you can enter your driver’s license number on the form as well. In any event, make sure to enter that plea before the end of the fifteenth day from the date you received your ticket.


While you should always contact an attorney regarding traffic tickets because [you should never simply plead guilty to a traffic ticket (link to article], lawyers have another distinct advantage in traffic court that we haven’t discussed before. Licensed attorneys practicing traffic law, like Michael Arbeit, can access an online portal into the TVB. Through this portal, a lawyer can take care of finding your ticket and, in most cases, obtain better results than should you have simply pleaded guilty. 

Outside New York City

If you are charged with a traffic violation outside of New York City, obtaining a great attorney is even more important. Not every town or village court is going to operate the same, and the variance between them could make it really hard to navigate this landscape. If you would like to represent yourself, the landscape is a little different because, unlike in the city, you are issued a return date and time. You must either enter a plea within forty-eight hours of receiving your ticket or appear in court.

This is where a lawyer can really help. First, if you do not know where you are supposed to go, lawyers practicing traffic law typically know the quickest way to obtain information from the courts they appear before. Typically, they can figure out where a violation is located within minutes, as it helps to know where to call and whom to talk to. Additionally, if you have an attorney, they can typically appear for you. While you may need to be present for a plea bargain or trial, a lawyer can do most things regarding your case while you are busy doing the things you need to get done.

What the charge is

It is critical to note that not all printout documents handed to you as the result of a traffic stop actually are tickets. There are some offenses where you are actually required to appear in court to enter a plea and dispose of your case. In these cases, similar to tickets apart from those in New York City, your ticket will identify the time and place that you need to appear. Typically, charges such as misdemeanors, DWIs, and other things more serious than a simple speeding ticket will require you to actually go to court. While it may seem like it, this is not part of the punishment. The point of this is to ensure that you understand the consequences that you are accepting if you plead or are found guilty.

When it comes to more serious charges, it is also always a good idea to have an attorney. For many of the same reasons, criminal defense can be a difficult thing to navigate. Michael Arbeit, as a skilled defense lawyer, can help you navigate the nuances of your case. Though you may not know your charge, the peace of mind a lawyer can bring in a free consultation even answering that single question is priceless. 

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).