Then there are those who visit for more athletic endeavors, like the New York City Marathon — and a wide variety of scenic running routes, to boot, including Central Park’s Reservoir loop, the West Side Highway waterfront, and around the perimeter of Roosevelt Island.
That said, living the high life around one of the world’s most famous city can sometimes come with unpleasant surprises — one of them being getting a traffic ticket. What are you supposed to do? Should you just pay for it and get on with your day? What happens if you contest it? What’s the best course of action to protect your pocket and your driving record?
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Traffic Ticket in NYC?
First things first. Never pay the ticket just for the sake of it. Do not think that doing so will make the problem go away. Keep in mind that this can affect you much more broadly. For example, many states will honor an out-of-state ticket and assess it against your driving record as if it occurred there. Further, if you accumulate too many points in New York, you could face a NY driver’s privilege suspension (and/or extra fees) which suspension will usually be honored in your home state. Whether it could happen depends on the interplay laws in your home state vis-a-vis out of state tickets.
Further, some vehicular charges are criminal (ex., driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, reckless driving, driving with a suspended privilege, driving with a suspended registration). A conviction on any of these types of charges will give you a criminal record.
And even if this is the first time you are getting a ticket, that in itself can come with a long list of problems, such as:
The traffic ticket
Traffic tickets in New York City are among the most expensive in the country. They typically range between $45 and $750, depending on the reason for getting pulled over. For example, if you were speeding, the faster you go, the higher the ticket usually will cost. And if you were speeding in a school or work zone, the fines are doubled.
Other common reasons for getting a traffic ticket in NYC include improper turns (which can be confusing in places like Manhattan), tailgating, running a red light, or any of the reasons listed on the DMV website.
Associated mandatory fees
One of the reasons New York City traffic tickets are so expensive is because drivers also have to pay surcharges related to the actual fines. The amount can range between $88 and $93, and it is possible for these fees to be higher than the cost of the ticket.
Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee
Something that is as New Yorker as a good pizza slice is the Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee. This is charged to anyone who accumulates 6 or more points against their driving record within 18 months (and keep in mind that DMVs communicate with each other across states). You will be required to pay this Fee even if you have an out of state license and, if you fail to timely pay it, your privilege to drive in New York will be suspended. New York will then most likely notify your home state which will honor the suspension.
You may also have to pay this fee if you are convicted of driving under the influence, or if you refused to take a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).
The amount of this fee will vary depending on the number of points in your driving record. If it was based solely on 6 New York points within 18 months, you will have to pay $100 for three consecutive years, for a total of $300. If you have more than 6 points, you will have to pay an additional $25 for each extra point for three years, for a total of $75 per point above 6..
If you are assessed this Fee because of an alcohol or drug related offense or if you refused to take a BAC test, the fee is $250 for three consecutive years, for a total of $750. In the alternative, you can pay it in one lump sum.
Driving Safety Class
The New York DMV has a Point and Insurance Reduction Program (PIRP). Under this program, you can take a 6 hour driver safety course to get points reduced from your driving record. Once you finish, you will get 4 points deducted from your total (although the conviction will remain on your record). Unfortunately, this class will not help you avoid paying a Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee if it applies, but it will help you avoid a suspension for too many NY points.
Increased Insurance Premium
To add insult to injury, in addition to all of these costs, your car insurance may also increase if you are convicted of a traffic violation in NYC. A NY conviction will generally be reported to your home state and your local insurance company may possibly use this conviction as a basis for raising your rates. The increases can be significant and will continue for 36 months from the date of conviction.
What to Do If You Get a Traffic Ticket While Vacationing in NYC
Within this context, it is good to be well informed about how it all works, so that you are in a better position to decide on how to proceed.
- Never Admit Guilt
Always be courteous with the law enforcement officer who has pulled you over. Provide your information, but do not admit to anything. There are many components that could come into play, depending on the ticket: Whether there was adequate signage, whether the police officer’s speed radar has been recently calibrated, or whether tall buildings may have interfered with their ability to properly gauge speed. Whatever it may be, keep it all to yourself until you can speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney. This leads us to step number two.
- Speak With An Attorney
Consulting with a local lawyer ensures that you get all relevant information and guidance from someone who has extensive knowledge on these types of issues. And the consultation is usually free. Based on your unique circumstances, a reputable attorney will tell you if you received a minor ticket (which can be just paid or a more substantial ticket (which is worth fighting). Even if you are in town for a short period of time, this is beneficial because you can find out whether there are legitimate reasons to fight the ticket; and if there are, your lawyer can go to a hearing for you, without you needing to be there. Think about how much better it would be to get your ticket amount reduced or even completely eliminated if your lawyer fights it successfully.
- Consider Taking a Driving Safety Class
If it turns out that you are at fault for the ticket, you can still reduce its impact on your driving record. If recommended by a New York traffic lawyer, taking a driving safety class you can eliminate up to four points from the ticket. This can be the difference between facing a driver’s license suspension and preserving your ability to drive. If this is the route you take, you first need to obtain a 9-digit New York ID number from the DMV, so that they can assign you the credit.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when you get a traffic ticket in New York. Failing to consult with a New York attorney who is experienced in these types of cases can end up costing you a lot of money — and maybe even your ability to drive for a portion of time. So before you pay for that ticket (and before you rush to travel back home), make sure to speak with someone who can help you.
About the author: Matthew J. Weiss, Esq. has a Juris Doctor from Hofstra Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review. Upon graduating in 1987, he became one of the first Hofstra graduates at the New York Court of Appeals (New York State’s highest court). He then went into private practice, focusing on fighting any type of traffic ticket issued in New York. He eventually reached a level of success in his career where he could focus on areas other than day-to-day operations. This freed up time to pursue other opportunities, such as producing and directing Man in Red Bandana, an award-winning film about an incredible 9/11 hero named Welles Crowther. You can also listen to his TEDx talk about courage.