Know Your Court. It makes a Difference.
Our firm divides traffic tickets and other driving related issues into two basic types of cases: Traffic Violation Bureau (TVB) cases and what we call “Local” cases.
The New York State TVB
The Traffic Violation Bureau is a state agency under another state agency—the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The TVB handles all NYC moving violation traffic tickets. Speeding tickets, red light tickets, disobey traffic device tickets and all other moving violations issued in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx and Manhattan are heard at the TVB. The TVB also handles some traffic tickets issued in Suffolk County, Rochester and Buffalo, NY.
The big thing to keep in mind with TVB cases is that there is no plea bargaining or negotiation with the Prosecution. In the TVB, the outcome will be either all (win the ticket outright) or nothing (lose the ticket outright). There are no “reductions”. Due to the fact that there are no reductions, the only way to challenge the ticket is to have a trial (hearing). The police officer serves as Prosecutor—the District Attorney is not involved with these administrative hearings
In a typical week, Feifer & Greenberg will handle over 300 TVB traffic tickets. When representing individuals at a TVB traffic ticket hearing, our attorneys stand before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and listen to the testimony offered by the issuing police officer. Each traffic ticket violation has certain “elements” that must be presented to the ALJ. We are looking for “problems” with the officer’s case–any omissions or contradictions in the officer’s testimony, in his notes (which we review) and/or on the actual traffic ticket handed to you during the car stop.
Our goal is simple—leverage one of these “problems” into a complete dismissal of the charge. For example, “Your Honor, we’re moving for a dismissal of the NYC speeding ticket charge based on the officer’s failure to establish that he was properly trained to use this particular radar device,” or “Your Honor, we’re moving for a dismissal of the disobey traffic device ticket because the officer failed to testify the device in question was clear, unobstructed and graffiti free.” These are very simple examples, but are indeed examples of the recognition of a potential problem, exploration via questioning and then presentation to the judge in the form of a motion to dismiss that our attorneys are generally working towards.
While no attorney can win every single case or ever guarantee a particular outcome, our attorneys are quite experienced with Traffic Violation Bureau hearings and overall have an excellent track record fighting TVB traffic tickets.
Local NY cases
Local cases are held in the various city, town and village courts throughout the state. Unlike the TVB, plea bargaining is available to motorists in these courts. In most cases, we are able to successfully negotiate a plea bargain on behalf of our clients. Negotiation is with the Prosecutor who may be the District Attorney, a local private attorney or the issuing police officer. Each county has it’s own procedures.
When we enter negotiations with the Prosecutor, our goal is always to minimize or hopefully eliminate the potential damages our client faces. Damages in the typical traffic violation cases are driver license points, fines and surcharges to the courts, large point-based state assessments, insurance increases and/or loss of the privilege to drive (suspension or revocation of a driver license).
What we ultimately consider a “successful” deal worth accepting will depend partly on the original charge, partly on our client’s driving record, partly on the offer that’s made and partly on our client’s particular goals. Some Prosecutors are more lenient than others with respect to the offers they make and some Judges are more lenient than others with respect to the plea bargains they will allow.
Our attorneys have the experience necessary to leverage favorable deals and help our clients evaluate and analyze what it all means.
If a local traffic ticket case cannot be successfully negotiated, trial is another option. It’s quite rare for our local cases to proceed to trial but our attorneys certainly have the experience to try such cases should it be necessary.
Note that local cases may sometimes be criminal in nature as well. We consider a local case a criminal case when the charge has gone beyond moving “violation” and is a misdemeanor or felony. In such cases, our goal is the same as it is in local traffic violation cases– minimize or hopefully eliminate the potential damages our client faces. With criminal cases, there are two additional and quite significant potential damages to consider—a permanent criminal record and/or imprisonment. Also note that criminal cases in NYC are handled by criminal courts (not the TVB) and proceed as all other local criminal cases do.