Can I Go to Jail for Speeding in New York?

New York State was recently ranked as the fifth-strictest state for speeders in the U.S. Speeding tickets in New York State carry hefty fines, points, and can result in a suspended license. But can drivers go to jail for excessive speed in New York?

While unlikely, it’s possible. Here is the potential sentence drivers can receive for speeding in New York and the most common circumstances that can result in jail time.

Jail Time for Basic Speeding (VTL 1180-b or 1180-d). A judge can sentence someone to jail for 15 days for going 11 to 30 mph over the limit or 30 days for going 31+ mph over the limit. A second or third speeding offense in 18 months can result in 30 days in jail for going 11 mph or more over the limit. There is no jail time for going 10 mph or less over the limit.

Jail Time for Speeding in a School Zone (VTL 1180-c). As with basic speeding in New York, a driver could go to jail for 15 days for going 11 to 30 mph over in a school zone, and 30 days for going 31 mph or more over. A second or third offense in 18 months can mean up to 30 days in jail for speeding 11 mph or more over the limit.

Jail Time for Speeding in a Construction Zone (VTL 1180-f). A driver could face 15 days in jail for going 11 to 30 mph over the limit in a work zone. Speeding 31+ mph in a work zone could result in 30 days in jail, as can going 11+ mph over on a second or third offense in 18 months.

Jail Time for Imprudent Speed (VTL 1180-a). Driving at a speed that is unsafe for the conditions (e.g. in heavy rain or on icy roads) has the potential for up to 15 days in jail on a first offense and 30 days on a second or third offense.

Jail Time for Reckless Driving (VTL 1212). Drivers with truly excessive speed or whose speed is combined with other unsafe behaviors can be charged with reckless driving. If that happens, one could face up to 30 days in jail for a first offense, 90 days for a second offense and 180 days for a third offense. Read More

Jail Time for Unauthorized Speed Contest (VTL 1182). Racing on public roadways is against the law and a conviction can mean 30 days in jail for a first offense (in addition to a possible suspended license). A second offense within 12 months can result in up to six months in jail.

What is the Likelihood of Going to Jail for Speeding?

In most cases, the chances of going to jail for speeding in New York is very small. There’s no data on how often drivers are locked up for speeding tickets. However, most instances involve aggravating factors. For example, if speeding was a contributing factor in an accident, the driver has had their license suspended multiple times (even if it was valid at the time of traffic stop) or has been involved in numerous speed-related accidents, the judge could see him/her as a threat to the road and impose a jail sentence in the hopes of sending a message. A driver who is belligerent with the officer or judge in court could also be sentenced to jail time. If the driver is charged with reckless driving because of his/her speed, or is charged with racing, then the chances of going to jail are much greater.

When is Speeding Considered Reckless Driving in NY?

While some states establish a fixed speed-over-the-limit that constitutes reckless driving, New York does not. However, a police officer has the discretion to charge a driver with reckless driving if excessive speed is combined with one or more factors that make the driver a danger to others. Such factors might include an apparent disregard for the presence of pedestrians, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving through a police barricade, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When is Speeding Considered Racing in NY?

In order to be convicted of racing in New York the officer must demonstrate that the driver was part of an exhibition or competition with another driver, rather than just speeding. If the driver can prove that there was no preset course and that he/she was not competing with another driver then it is possible to beat this charge. The driver can still be charged with basic speeding, however.

Should I Be Concerned About Going to Jail Over My NY Speeding Ticket?

Whether a person will be jailed as the result of a NY speeding ticket depends on the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop, one’s driving record, and possibly one’s attitude. A driver who keeps racking up traffic tickets—even if the number of points or speeding tickets on their record in any given 18-month period never lead to a suspension—can find themselves facing jail time. In addition, a driver who is combative with a judge, police officer or prosecutor could end up behind bars. Regardless of the circumstances, a judge who decides to incarcerate a driver over a speeding ticket is attempting to send a message that someone’s behavior and/or attitude needs to change.

That said, in most cases a driver’s primary concern should be the fines, surcharges, points, and auto insurance increases that come with a conviction for speeding. In addition, drivers should also be mindful of potential license suspension or revocation, either from accruing too many points or simply having too many speeding convictions on their record.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for speeding in New York and are concerned about possible jail time—or if you simply want to avoid the fine, points and other consequences—you should consult with an attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for speeding, reckless driving and many other driving-related offenses in New York .

Call the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case. 888-883-5529