Getting a speeding ticket anywhere in New York State is serious. However, drivers who get a speeding ticket in New York City are facing a completely different set of challenges. The five boroughs of New York City–Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx–handle traffic tickets in a different manner than all other parts of the state. As a result, drivers are convicted at much higher rates. Here’s what makes it so difficult to fight a speeding ticket in NYC and why drivers need an attorney to help them.
Read more here for a guide on how to handle your first NY speeding ticket.
What Is the Cost of a NYC Speeding Ticket?
Fines: NYC speeding ticket fines cost between $45 and $600. Specifically, it can cost $45-$150 for speeding 1 mph to 10 mph over the limit in NYC; $90-$300 for speeding 11 mph to 30 mph over the limit in NYC; and $180-$600 for speeding 31+ mph over the limit in NYC.
Surcharges: Drivers ticketed for speeding in NYC are automatically hit with an $88 surcharge. This is in addition to the fine for the speeding ticket.
Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee (DRA): Drivers who are assessed six or more points for violations that occurred within an 18-month period will be required to pay to an additional fine known as the Driver Responsibility Assessment fee (DRA). The DRA costs $300 plus an additional $75 for each point after the six. This fee is separate and in addition to the fines for the ticket.
|NYC Speeding Violation||Total Fine, Surcharge & DRA||Points|
|Speeding 1-10 MPH over limit||$133 – $238||3 points|
|Speeding 11- 20 MPH over limit||$178 – $388||4 points|
|Speeding 21- 30 MPH over limit||$478 – $988||6 points|
|Speeding 31-40 MPH over limit||$718 – $1,138||8 points|
|Speeding 41+ MPH over limit||$943 – $1,363||11 points|
Points: The New York State DMV will assess the same points for tickets issued in NYC as in other jurisdictions. Speeding 1 to 10 mph over the limit is worth 3 points; speeding 11 to 20 mph over the limit is worth 4 points; speeding 21 to 30 mph over the limit is worth 6 points; speeding 31 to 40 mph over the limit is worth 8 points; and speeding 41 mph or more over the limit is worth 11 points.
Auto insurance premium increase: Drivers can experience increased insurance premiums as a result of being convicted of speeding in NYC. It’s not uncommon for NYC drivers to pay as much as $2,900 per year for auto insurance. One study found that speeding in NYC can cause up to a 33% increase in insurance rates, meaning a single speeding ticket could cost an extra $957 per year – more than $2800 total over a 3-year period!
What is the NYC Traffic Violations Bureau?
Most cities, towns and villages in New York State have their own traffic courts that handle speeding and other traffic tickets. But NYC uses the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB). The TVB is an administrative court that is part of the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). As such, it is not part of the state’s judicial branch and operates under different rules than most local traffic courts. The TVB conducts its proceedings according to the Administrative Adjudication of Traffic Violations regulations in the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.
What Makes TVB More Challenging Than Regular Traffic Court?
No plea bargains. The most significant difference between TVB and other traffic courts is the inability of drivers (or their attorneys) to negotiate tickets down to lesser charges. Drivers who wish to fight their NYC speeding tickets must go to trial and win a dismissal, which is very difficult to do, especially for an individual without significant TVB trial experience (non-attorney conviction rates are over 80%).
Clear and convincing evidence. In the TVB, the threshold of conviction is “clear and convincing evidence.” By contrast, most other traffic courts require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This lower standard is one reason TVB has lower acquittal rates than other courts.
Right of discovery. TVB does not have rules regarding discovery for traffic tickets. In most other courts, a person can request information related to their speeding ticket, such as a supporting deposition, radar gun repair records, manufacturer’s manual, and calibration log, etc. Any of these materials can be used to formulate a defense against a speeding ticket. However, the TVB does not give parties the right of advance discovery, so if the agency refuses this information, they cannot be compelled by the court to surrender them, leaving the driver with less to defend oneself with. The only thing a person can do is ask to see any notes or evidence the officer intends to use immediately prior to the trial, which doesn’t give one much time to prepare.
Admissibility of hearsay. The TVB allows hearsay—oral or written statements that was made by someone other than the testifying witness. In other words, if an officer repeats a claim about the defendant made by another officer, that would be considered hearsay. In most traffic courts this would be inadmissible, but in the TVB it’s fair game.
What is the Speed Limit in NYC?
The default speed limit in NYC is 25 mph. The NYC Department of Transportation has been lowering speed limits throughout the five boroughs since 2014. As such, drivers who are used to driving 30 mph on some roads may suddenly find themselves pulled over for speeding. Unfortunately, due to the state’s strict liability for speeding and other traffic laws, telling a cop or a judge that one didn’t know the speed limit had been reduced on a particular roadway won’t get one out of a NYC speeding ticket—in fact, doing so means admitting to speeding and is sufficient grounds for a conviction. The possibility of a defendant walking themselves into a conviction is yet another reason to hire an experienced trial lawyer (see below)!
To know what the speed limit is on various roadways, the NYC DOT offers maps of indicating the limits on each street.
Why Hire a NYC Speeding Ticket Attorney?
- The TVB is tougher than most courts. There is less room for negotiation and a lower burden of proof is required for a conviction.
- An experienced NYC attorney will know the judges and many of the police officers (who act as prosecutors in the TVB). As such, they will have a positive rapport with many of them, which can provide an edge in presenting and navigating the nuances of the case.
- An innocent driver can easily end up accidentally admitting guilt or giving enough information to justify a conviction. Skillful attorneys know exactly what to say and what not to say to ensure the case is presented thoroughly without revealing anything that can be used against the client.
- An attorney can save the driver a trip to court. New York State allows an attorney appear in court in lieu of the driver in most cases.
How to Fight a NYC Speeding Ticket
For those who choose to challenge their NYC speeding ticket, here is how the process works.
- Respond right away. Drivers have only 15 days to respond to a NYC speeding ticket. Failure to respond can result in a default conviction and a suspension of the driver’s license. The TVB lets drivers enter a not-guilty plea (or pay the ticket) online.
- Attend the hearing. Once a person enters a plea, a hearing notice will be sent stating the date and location of the TVB hearing. Be sure to show up on time, dress appropriately, and be courteous to everyone, especially the judge.
- Offer evidence. The judge will first listen to testimony from the police officer, who will explain why the driver was charged with speeding. Then, the driver (or his/her attorney) may ask the officer questions. If the driver has brought witnesses or written evidence, that can also be submitted. The judge may ask the witnesses or driver questions to better understand their testimony. This is where an attorney can make the biggest difference; a single careless question or answer can result in a conviction.
Remember: Drivers are considered innocent of the underlying charge(s) until proven guilty at the hearing. However, unlike in most courts, the TVB only requires “clear and convincing evidence” to find someone guilty of a violation.
- Receive a judgement. Once all evidence and testimony has been given, the judge makes a ruling. This decision will be based on the evidence and testimony presented and the wording of the statute in question. If the judge decides there is not clear and convincing evidence the law was broken, the driver is found not guilty. More often, the charge is proven and drivers are found guilty. At this point, the judge sets a fine and points are assessed according to the violation(s) in question. If the conviction results in a suspended or revoked license, this will also be noted.
- Consider filing an appeal. A NYC speeding ticket conviction can be appealed online or by mail. However, the vast majority of convictions are upheld so it might be worth discussing your chances with an attorney before proceeding.
Data on NYC Speeding Tickets
Speeding tickets in the five boroughs of NYC have some of the lowest acquittal rates (i.e. a finding of not guilty) in all of New York State. Approximately 7.1% of speeding tickets were dismissed in 2018. Statewide, an average of 7.8% of speeding tickets were dismissed the same year. However, more than 50% of speeding tickets in the state were pled down to a non-speeding violation, which the TVB does not allow.
Of the five boroughs, Staten Island had the lowest acquittal rate in NYC with, 3.6% of speeding tickets getting dismissed. Manhattan had the most speeding ticket dismissals in NYC, with nearly 12.5%. Of course, these are borough-wide averages. The chances of winning increase significantly if a person hires an experienced traffic ticket attorney.
New York City accounted for 19.4% of all speeding tickets issued in New York State in 2018. Queens County saw the greatest number of speeding tickets, with 41,881 issued last year, or 32% of all speeding tickets written in NYC. Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn all typically rank in the Top 10 counties for speeding tickets in the state by volume.
Drivers in Manhattan got the fewest speeding tickets in the five boroughs, with just 13,630 handed out in 2018. However, NYPD didn’t skimp on tickets that year; in fact, speeding represented just 3.7% of all traffic tickets issued in the Big Apple.
Of all the counties in NYC, speeding represented the largest proportion of traffic tickets in Staten Island. The 19,571 tickets written for speeding in Staten Island were 21.7% of all tickets written by NYPD officers for drivers in the county.