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What Are New York Traffic Court Records?
New York Traffic Court records are the documents produced during the proceedings of Traffic Courts in the state. These records also include traffic tickets issued by law enforcement officers and the documentation of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) including its Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB).
While Traffic Courts (and Criminal Courts for criminal traffic offenses) process traffic tickets in the rest of New York State, and TVB is responsible for processing non-criminal moving traffic violations (except red light camera tickets) in the five boroughs of New York City. Citizens can find the addresses and contact information of Traffic Courts in the state on the New York DMV Traffic Court page. For the locations of TVB offices in NYC, check the TVB directory on the DMV’s website.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in New York
A New York traffic ticket, also called Uniform Traffic Ticket (UTT), can either be a handwritten note measuring 4 x 9 inches or a computer-generated long form measuring the 8.5 x 11 inches. State Police officers use the long form and provide an additional page called Supporting Deposition. This is a sworn statement from the ticketing officer describing the infraction, misdemeanor, or felony observed.
A New York traffic ticket does not list a fine amount. It also does not provide information about where and how to pay the ticket. It has two check boxes (for guilty and not guilty pleas) and a court or TVB return address. After receiving a traffic ticket, complete one of the two boxes and send it back to the address provided on or before the due date listed on the ticket (usually within 15 days after receiving the ticket). Failure to answer a traffic ticket will result in the suspension of your driver’s license and could attract additional fines.
Note that New York DMV does not handle parking tickets and pedestrian violations. These are handled by local courts and parking violation bureaus. If you fail to answer a parking ticket, the local authority may contact the DMV. The DMV can suspend your vehicle registration or prevent its renewal for failure to answer or pay a parking ticket.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in New York
After receiving a traffic ticket in the state, you can either:
- Pay the ticket; or
- Contest the ticket in court
If you plead guilty to a New York traffic ticket, you agree to pay all fines, fees, and surcharges arising from this plea. How you pay or contest a New York ticket depends on where you received it. The DMV’s TVB handles all traffic tickets issued in New York City. If you decide to pay a traffic ticket issued in the city, first you must answer the ticket. You can do this online, by mail, or in person at a TVB office. You will need to provide the TVB traffic ticket number and the DMV ID number on your New York State driver’s license or permit. Offenders from other states may provide their full names, genders, and dates of birth in lieu of DMV ID numbers.
How do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in New York?
To pay a TVB ticket, visit the Plead/Pay section of the New York DMV website and follow the instructions provided. Note that issued tickets are not immediately accessible online. It may take several days for traffic tickets to show up in the DMV’s online database. If your ticket is currently not in the system, you may choose to be notified by email when the ticket goes online. The NYS DMV also does not allow motorists to plead guilty online for traffic offenses that may result in the suspension or revocation of their driving privileges. For such offenses, appearing in a TVB Office is mandatory.
You may also enter your plea or pay a traffic ticket by mail. Send plea and payment (check or money order made out to “Commissioner of Motor Vehicles”) to:
Traffic Violations Plea Unit
P.O. Box 2950 - ESP
Albany, NY 12220-0950
Visa and Mastercard are also accepted for ticket payments. To plead or pay a TVB ticket in person, visit the nearest TVB Office and not a regular DMV Issuing Office. You can also schedule a hearing at a TVB office.
How do I Plead or Pay a TVB Ticket Received While Riding a Bicycle?
TVB tickets received while riding a bicycle or in-line skates are payable online, by mail, and in person just like any other TVB ticket. However, pleading guilty, getting convicted of bicycle/skating offenses, and paying tickets and fines from such offenses do not add points to your driving record.
To pay traffic tickets in other parts of New York State, follow the instructions provided on the ticket. Most New York cities, towns, villages, and counties allow motorists to pay for tickets on their court and/or municipal websites. Note that city, town, village, and county courts handle traffic law violations in the rest of the state. For information about paying traffic tickets, visit the website of the city, town, or county where the ticket was issued.
How do I Look Up My Traffic Tickets?
To see details about a traffic ticket issued in the State of New York, visit the website of New York State DMV. Start your enquiry from the Plead and Pay page of the website. You will have to enter your NYS ID Number, a 9-digit ID number on your NYS driver’s license, learner permit, or photo ID card. The traffic ticket number is also required. If unavailable, you must enter the last four digits of your social security number.
Municipalities outside New York City may also have other means of providing details about traffic tickets. Some allow the public to search for traffic tickets from their county, city, town, or court website.
I Lost My TVB Ticket. What Do I Do?
You can print a substitute ticket right from the New York DMV TVB website. Substitute tickets contain the same information as issued tickets and are equally valid. Note that only open tickets are available for printing online. To print a replacement ticket, visit the Substitute Traffic Ticket page of the NYS DMV website.
Anatomy of a New York Traffic Ticket
A New York traffic ticket has the following five sections:
- Defendant’s information
- Court information
- Plea of Guilty
- Plea of Not Guilty
The Defendant’s Information: this section contains identifying information about the vehicle and its operator. It includes the defendant’s name and address as well as the color, make, and model of the vehicle.
Charges: provides details of the traffic infraction the defendant is accused of committing. This section also provides the location of the traffic violation and the ticketing officer’s information.
Court Information: contains the name of the court where the defendant must appear or send a response. The court address is also included in this section as well as the date and time by which the defendant must respond to the ticket either in person or by mail.
Plea of Guilty: complete this section if you choose to plead guilty and pay the ticket immediately. Mail the completed section to the court address before the due date. Note that choosing to plead “guilty with explanation” on the traffic ticket does not improve the chances of the court or TVB exonerating you.
Plea of Not Guilty: complete this section if you wish to challenge the ticket in court. You can change a “not guilty” plea to a “guilty” plea later. However, entering a “not guilty” plea initially guarantees your right to trial and may qualify you for plea bargaining if available. Plea bargaining allows you to plead guilty to a less severe offense in order to reduce your fine and/or point accrued to your driving record.
New York DMV License Violation Points
Paying a traffic ticket and getting convicted for a traffic offense carry another penalty beside fines and court surcharges. These outcomes add violation points to your driving record. The table below breaks down points awarded for speeding violations:
|MPH over Posted Speed Limit||Points|
|1 – 10||3|
|11 – 20||4|
|21 – 30||6|
|31 – 40||8|
Different points are also awarded for other traffic law violations. These include:
- 2-point violations: inadequate brakes (employer’s vehicle) and miscellaneous violations
- 3-point violations: failure to yield right-of-way, disobeying traffic signs, improper passing, unsafe lane changes, driving in the wrong direction, driving left of center, fleeing scene of property damage incident, and child safety restraint violation
- 4-point violations: tailgating and inadequate brakes (private vehicle)
- 5-point violations: reckless driving, failure to stop for a school bus, railroad crossing violation, texting while driving, and improper cell phone use while operating a vehicle
Accruing 11 or more points over an 18-month period automatically leads to the suspension of the defendant’s license. Accumulating 6 or more points from one or more traffic tickets within an 18-month period means you have to pay the Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA) in addition to ticket fines and court surcharges.
Electing to go to traffic school or take driver’s safety class does not remove points from your driving record. Rather, it extends the maximum point you can accumulate before the DMV suspends your driver’s license. New York only allows defendants to take driver’s safety classes once every 18 months.
Contesting a New York Traffic Ticket
Successfully fighting a traffic ticket helps you avoid paying the ticket and all associated charges. It also prevents violation points from going on your driving record. Another reason to contest a traffic ticket is to ensure your auto insurance rate does not go up. New York does not require that you have an attorney present to contest a ticket in a Traffic Court. However, having one may be prudent to help you navigate the state’s traffic laws.
An attorney can also get you reduced charges in Traffic Court through plea bargaining. Local traffic law attorneys know prosecutors and how to negotiate favorable terms for their clients. Note that plea bargaining is only available for cases tried in New York Traffic Courts. The TVB handles non-criminal traffic cases in all five boroughs of New York City and does not allow plea bargaining.
In addition to this difference, the Traffic Violations Bureau works differently from New York Traffic Courts. Since it operates under its own rules, it is advisable to hire an attorney with considerable experience handling TVB cases when contesting a traffic ticket in the Big Apple. One way in which traffic law attorneys help clients successfully fight TVB tickets is by requesting adjournments in order to make it unlikely for ticketing officers to attend trial sessions.
When contesting a TVB ticket or a regular traffic ticket in a New York Traffic Court, you will have to pay all fines, fees, and surcharges associated with the violations on your ticket. These amounts will be refunded if the court or TVB finds you not guilty of the infraction.
Note that New York mandates that a Traffic Court or TVB hearing happen in the jurisdiction where a ticket was issued.
What to Expect in a New York Traffic Court?
After pleading not guilty to a traffic ticket online, in person, or by mail, the DMV TVB office or Traffic Court will set a trial date and time. If you contest a traffic ticket in New York City, a DMV Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will hear your case. This is an experienced attorney versed in the state’s Vehicle and Traffic Law and in the employ of the state. An ALJ hearing a TVB ticket case has the power to:
- Decide the outcome of a traffic case i.e. whether you are guilty or not
- Set a fine for the guilty party
- Revoke/suspend your driver's license and/or vehicle registration
In other municipalities of New York State, Traffic Court judges have the power to make these decisions.
Traffic cases are open to the public in New York. Therefore, while preparing for your hearing, you may go to a TVB office in New York City or a Traffic Court in other parts of the state to watch proceedings. Seeing how traffic cases are tried is important if you choose to represent yourself in court. These sessions will show you the various stages of proceedings and what the court expects of defendants. You will learn court rules as well as how to dress and address the judge.
While preparing for your day in court, you may request the ticketing officer’s Supporting Deposition. This is document prepared alongside the ticket providing details of the infraction. Tick the check box on the ticket meant to request this document. The court or TVB office will subpoena the police officer that issued your ticket to appear in court on the day of the trial. This officer will present his sworn testimony.
In both TVB and Traffic Court cases, the defendant or their attorney may present witnesses and evidence during trial. Witnesses may testify in person or provide written testimonies. Your or your attorney will also get a chance to cross-examine the ticketing officer and any witness presented by the prosecutor.
While you can testify at your own trial, you are not required by law to do so. After hearing all parties, the ALJ or Traffic Court judge will then come to a decision based on the evidence and testimony presented. If the judge decides that the evidences and testimonies provided do not convincingly prove the charge brought against you, you will be found not guilty. If the judge believes the evidences and testimonies provided during the hearing clearly supports the charge, you will be found guilty and fined accordingly. Other punishments may also be passed by the judge depending on your traffic record and the type of traffic violation involved.
If you are unsatisfied with the judge’s decisions, you may file an appeal. The DMV Appeals Board handles TVB appeals while higher courts handle appeals from Traffic Courts in New York cities, towns, counties, and villages. If you intend to file an appeal, make sure to do so before a set due date (usually within 30 days of the TVB or Traffic Court decision).
How to Postpone a Traffic Ticket Hearing in New York
To postpone and reschedule your traffic ticket hearing, contact the TVB for a ticket issued in New York City or the Traffic Court listed on the ticket for an infraction booked in another part of the state.
When requesting a postponement from the TVB, make sure to submit your request before the hearing date. The DMV requires mail requests to be made at least 10 days before the scheduled hearing date. Send a mail request for hearing postponement to the Albany address of the DMV. Postponement requests made in person or by phone ((718)-488-5710) must be made at TVB offices at least a day before the hearing.
Requests for second and subsequent postponements must be made in person at least a day before the hearing date. You must provide a convincing reason for the postponement and the request is subject to approval by a TVB ALJ.
Rules and terms for hearing postponement vary in other parts of the state. Check with the court clerk of the Traffic Court where you case is scheduled to hold. You may contact the clerk’s office in person or by phone. Make sure to request a postponement well ahead of the hearing date.