Apr 30, 2010  •  In NYC, Personal

Would You Contest This Ticket? How About Hiring an Attorney?

This morning, I received my first traffic violation ticket in over a decade.

I was at a busy intersection (corner of W. 42nd and 8th Ave) and attempting to make a left turn onto 8th Ave. The traffic signal with a left arrow turned green, so I slowly started to make the turn, but stopped as there were still pedestrians crossing the street. I waited until all the pedestrians had passed, then finished making the turn.

I was then immediately pulled over and given a ticket for “failure to yield to pedestrians.”

The cops had obviously set up a trap at this location, because three other cars got pulled over for the same reason at the time. And in the time that I was waiting for the ticket to be issued, I witnessed at least 10 other cars doing EXACTLY what I had done, or worse (pulling deep into the middle of the pedestrian walkway) and getting off without a glance.

I would like to contest this ticket as I did not block any pedestrians, or ignore them, or drove on through. I waited until everyone had passed before continuing to make the turn. I did not do anything worse than what all NYC drivers do, and I certainly did not hurt anyone.

However, I realize that the law is not on my side as the judge is more likely to take the officer’s word over mine. In addition, my understanding is that the officer has THREE chances to appear in court so I may need to show up in court three different times, which I am reluctant to do as I’ve heard many stories of people waiting for hours on end in traffic court with no success.

This violation is a 3-point violation, which will most certainly jack up my insurance rates. I would also need to pay a fine of $160.

Should I contest this ticket?

I contacted a traffic violation attorney to see what my options are. For $300, they will file all the necessary paperwork and make all appearances in court on my behalf. I do not even need to meet with them — we can do everything over email, phone, and regular mail.

I asked what their success rate is for the dismissal of traffic violation tickets, and they answered 65-75%.

J thinks that the $300 is worth it, especially considering the increase in insurance costs over the years. As for me, I’m a bit reluctant because it’s a lot of money for something that I can do myself. I may not necessarily do it better, but it’s still doable.

Would you hire an attorney?

On a more personal note, SCREW YOU, NYC.

I know that the city is strapped for cash. But purposely setting up traps like this — on a crowded street during rush hour, no less — is just bad form. They blocked off TWO lanes for this trap, further aggravating rush hour traffic and inconveniencing motorists and pedestrians alike.

Find other ways of raising money. Traffic tickets are fine when warranted. Not when it’s for something that happens in NYC on every corner, every hour of each day.

11 Responses to “Would You Contest This Ticket? How About Hiring an Attorney?”

  1. Anon NYC Girl:

    I say contest it! The worst case scenario is if you lost the case and end up paying the fine as well. But if you do get it dismissed, think of the premium you will save! Hubby got 2 speeding tickets in the past 2 years and I can tell you, our premium is hurting

  2. Mary:

    You can contest it but I wouldn’t shell out $300 for an attorney if all you’re worried about is an increase in car insurance. Otherwise, pay the fine, go to traffic school to get rid of the point and your insurance company would never know.

    If you contest, you can write a written declaration so that you don’t have to go to court.

    Anyways…if the light is green and there is a left green arrow also, the pedestrian signal would be red telling pedestrians to not cross. Therefore if there are any pedestrian who got into the walk way while your light was green, they weren’t obeying the law!

  3. Sherry:

    Contest it! Otherwise, the cop will face no consequences for pulling a stunt like that. If you contest it, the cop will have to take time off to appear at court AND there will be documentation.

  4. Christine:

    Yeah, can you do traffic school to get rid of the points? I would contest it myself first though.

  5. Geek in Heels:

    @Mary — I was informed that a written statement won’t work in my case. Also, I told the officer that I had the green light and he said, "That doesn’t matter, the pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way."

    As for traffic school, I will get points reduced but that only counts towards my driving record toward license revocation or suspension. Unless the violation is dismissed (by a court appearance), the violation will remain on my record and insurance rates will go up.

  6. Contest it yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, hire the attorney. I imagine that there are a ton of resources out there for people who want to contest a violation without hiring an attorney. Look at local legal aid clinics to see if they have forms/info online.

    BTW, I still don’t understand what you did wrong if you had a green arrow, and then sat there and yielded to the pedestrians. I think the first place I would start is with the actual code section that outlines the specific law you allegedly violated.

  7. T:

    I would say just pay it…not worth your time, I have seen people contest the tickets and the cop would blatantly lie on the stand and the judge would believe them even though their story didn’t make any sense. I am surprised that traffic school won’t help with the insurance, in Cali you can take traffic school twice within a certain amount of time, only after that does it go to insurance, but maybe thats just because they feel bad for us. Just about any moving violation is ~$450 out here. If you pull off the evil parking in a bus zone?…thats $900! haha now that is strapped for cash.

    I guess they have to charge us somehow for all the sunshine, that s**t ain’t free…oh wait…

  8. stacey:

    contest it!! it won’t make it worse, right? i always figure it’s worth a shot.

  9. Becky:

    If it will cause big premiums I’d say contest it. I had my first traffic violation, speeding, last fall. I contested all the way on my own…cost me $75 by the time I got to the actual judge. My ticket was $180. In the end the judge knocked my ticket down to $100 so it was pretty much a wash since I’d paid $75 in fees. On court day there was only a handful of us and one guy had a lawyer. They took his case immediately. I don’t know what his violation was but he was immediately let off the hook. Now, I don’t know how common this is but the judge looked like he wanted nothing to do with being there and doing these kinds of things is a big pain in the a$$ and the last thing he wanted do is argue with a lawyer. Also, just an FYI for the future, I did a lot of research and found out that one of the best things to do is to say nothing to the cop, you have the right to say nothing at all, even if he/she asks you why they pulled you over. Well, I’m sure there is nothing wrong with saying "no" – you don’t know why you were pulled over, but I’d leave it at that, anything beyond that could incriminate yourself. The answer you gave may appear that you didn’t know the traffic rules.

  10. Kim:

    Was your car in the crosswalk? While I only know the traffic laws in CA, if a pedestrian has one foot in a crosswalk, youmust yield. So if you went through the crosswalk when there was a ped in it, no matter if they were far put of your way, you were in the wrong.

    If you’re not put put by it, contest it. But don’t speak of a traffic trap, or lack of enforcement of other cars. Argue the merits of your side and that’s it.

  11. CMW:

    You can take a defensive driving class and get rid of all those points- plus receive a percentage off your insurance rates (10% for 3 years):
    http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/broch/c32a.htm

    And it looks like some are offered online for $35.

    Much cheaper and quicker than contesting.

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