The Move Over Law

What is the Move Over Law (NY VTL § 1144A)? New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1144A requires drivers who approach a police, emergency, or hazard vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the road with its lights on to move out of the lane immediately adjacent to the shoulder where the authorized vehicle is stopped. Lights mounted on top of these vehicles may vary in color from amber, green, red, blue, or a combination of these.

 What is a police, emergency, or hazard vehicle?

WORK ZONE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (VTL § 1180-f)

What is a work zone? Work zones are governed by vehicle and traffic law section 1180f (VTL § 1180-(f)), which defines a work zone as a highway construction or maintenance work area. In these areas, the speed limit(s) are usually less than the normally posted speed limits. This is done for the safety of a driver and the people working in the construction or maintenance area. As such, tickets for work zone violations are taken seriously and are assigned the same points as that of speeding violations in non-work zones. Points are correlated to how fast over the speed limit a driver was going. Speeds between 1-10 mph carries 3 points; 11-20 mph carries 4 points; 21-30 mph carries 6 points, 31-40 mph carries 8 points; 41+ carries 11 points. An 11 point conviction, or accrual in an 18 month period, will cause a suspension of NYS driving privileges.

However, unlike non-work zone speeding violations, fines for work zone violations are doubled. A first time conviction of a work zone violation can range from $150 to $600. So when doubled, fines actually range from $300 to $1,200, not to mention the mandatory surcharges. Additionally, work zone convictions will cause an auto insurance increase.

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1180(a): Speed not reasonable and prudent

The New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1180(a) – what is it and what does it mean for you as a driver? Lets first illustrate this traffic violation:

Gabe grew up on a farm in a Northeast.  He has been driving tractors and trucks and plowing snow on the farm since he could see over the steering wheel.  When his wife took a job transfer to New York, they relocated to Yonkers. The 55-mph parkway speed limit frustrated him in comparison to the 80-mph speed limit on the interstate back home, and he thought the locals drove extremely slow in the snow. Even though Gabe was driving below the speed limit, he was completely shocked one snowy day when he was ticked for “speed not reasonable and prudent.” 

What exactly is this violation Gabe received?  VTL § 1180(a) is defined as:  “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”

A downward spiral for Adrian began in 2015. It started with a series of moves and job changes. Then he failed file his 2015 and 2016 taxes because he never received his W-2s. Monthly child support deductions from his paycheck were due to the state, but were never paid because Adrian could not keep a job. To make things worse, an unanswered ticket for texting while driving and speeding sat in a pile of mail on an old table.  Previous speeding tickets caused his car insurance rate to spike.  Overwhelmed, Adrian let his insurance lapse, reasoning he would take the subway to work in Manhattan, New York. But, one day while in a jam, Adrian drove his truck to work and was pulled over by an officer for passing a stopped school bus. Adrian was issued two more tickets – a school bus and a no insurance ticket (VTL §§ 1174-(a) and 319-1).

Many of Adrian’s woes can cause a suspension and/or revocation of a driver’s license.  Such as failure to pay child support, not paying taxes, acquiring 11 points to one’s driving record in an 18-month period, and operating a motor vehicle without insurance. These are examples of some ways that a person’s driver license can be suspended and/or revoked. But, the loss of driving privileges may not the only consequences.

For example, Adrian’s lapse in insurance will trigger a license and registration suspension. However, a one-year driver’s license revocation will result for a driver involved a traffic accident without insurance coverage. Also, license plates must be surrendered to the DMV. Upon eligibility to reapply for a driver license, a driver will first have to pay a $750 civil penalty. In fact, in almost all cases where a person is reapplying for his or her driver license after it has been revoked, a one-time $100 fee is charged.  Additionally, a suspension termination fee must be paid to have a driver license returned after it has been suspended.

Is there anything that can be done if a driver has been default convicted in a New York City Department of Motor Vehicles, Traffic Violations Bureau (NYC DMV TVB)? If so, what is the process? These are questions that many people have asked. The good news is that being default convicted is not the end of the story. There is a continuation that will provide a glimmer of hope for a driver who is in the unfortunate predicament of having been default convicted.

A default conviction occurs when a person is issued a traffic ticket, and fails to let the DMV TVB court know whether he or she is pleading guilty or not guilty. In this instance, the driver will be “default convicted” by the DMV court. Meaning that after a certain amount of time goes by and the DMV court does not receive a plea, the DMV TVB will enter a guilty plea for the traffic offender, “convicting” him or her of the charge. This is the same as entering a guilty plea by paying the fine, or being found guilty by the judge after trial.

The first step in trying to “undo” a default conviction is applying to have the case “re-opened.” This means submitting An Application to Reopen a Default Conviction to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Traffic Violations Division in Albany, New York. The application is a formal written request to have a default conviction reopened. The application itself is straightforward and asks for information such as driver’s license number and address. A written explanation of why the driver did not answer the ticket is also required. Additionally, supporting documentation must be submitted. The great thing is that there is not a time limitation on when an application can be submitted. For example, a driver can submit an application to reopen a NYC default conviction 3 years after he or she was convicted.  

What does it mean to be default convicted in New York City? What are the consequences of being default convicted? And why should you care?

Being default convicted in NYC can be a very big deal and cause serious headaches for a driver- even for an out of state motorist. But, before getting into the details, it is important to understand the structure or procedure of the courts in the five New York City boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

New York City Default Conviction

The courts in these boroughs are run by the Department of Motor Vehicles, Traffic Violations Bureau (NYC DMV TVB). Because the courts are run by an Administrative Agency and not the city, town or village, they abide by their own set of rules. The most noticeable difference between a DMV TVB and other courts is that there is no “plea bargaining” or negotiating tickets. This means that you cannot talk to the officer or prosecutor and ask for a parking ticket instead of what you were originally charged with. Rather, every ticket must go to trial. Yes, a real trial where direct testimony and cross-examination will take place. At the end of the trial, the judge will decide whether or not the driver is guilty of the original charge. If the judge decides that the driver is guilty, then points will be added to his or her driving abstract (driving history) and other negative consequences can accrue, like a DMV assessment fee. Click here for a more detailed discussion of the New York State Driver Responsibility Assessment.

Daniel and his mom had spent the morning school shopping in Yonkers, NY.  The stores were busy, and fitting rooms even more so.  When they finally made it home, Daniel asked if he could ride his bike to his friend’s house.  On the verge of a migraine, his mother said yes because she thought the peace and quiet would be nice and she could rest. Sadly, Daniel would never wear the school clothes he and his mom had spent the morning trying on and selecting.  Nor would Daniel show his friend his new backpack. A couple blocks away from home, a teenager who was texting and driving, struck and killed Daniel.

As a new school year begins and summer days linger on, young bicyclists will be sharing the road with motorists.  A review of the laws that govern bicyclists will help drivers keep aware of cyclist and help them stay safe. Bicyclist Rules of the Road

It is important to remember that bicyclists have the same right to share the road as motorists.  The right-of-way must be yielded to them, just as it would be any other car.  The same laws that apply motorists also apply to bicyclists.  When sharing the road with bicyclists, give them space. Also, reduce speed your speed possible because passing cyclist too closely creates air pressure that can push them off balance. 

DACA and Advanced Parole

Maria knew someday she would receive this phone call.  Like all bad news, you never think today will be the day.  But, today was Maria’s day. Her dad is terminally ill with cancer and today’s phone call revealed her father had taken a turn for the worst and time was of the essence.

Only once had she met her father face to face at Friendship Park. Their encounter was through steel bars and they connected by a light brush of their fingertips.  

After her divorce, Maria’s mom had moved to the U.S from Mexico.  Maria was just a baby and her older brother Gustavo was a toddler at the time.  Although Maria nearly lived her entire life in the U.S., she is an undocumented immigrant. A spark of hope ignited in Maria when President Obama instituted the DACA program.  Maria learned of a nonprofit immigration legal service provider through a referral program at her high school in Bronx, NY that helped her apply for DACA. Before long she had a social security number and got a job.

Antonio always left too late for work.  His job was exactly 12 minutes away on a good day. He knew this because he had timed the commute.  His shift started in 10 minutes and he frantically sped towards the Ritz Carlton in White Plains, NY. Two blocks from work he encountered stopped cars. He angrily muttered, “Why are they stopped?!” He made the split-second decision to pass them in the left turn lane. What he did not know or see, but soon realized, was that the cars had stopped for a stopped school bus.  Had the children been any closer to the middle of the street, he would have plowed through the group of them. Many years have passed since this incident, but a sick feeling always overwhelms Antonio when he recalls how he could have killed those children.

As another school year is scheduled to begin, it is important to refresh our memory of the traffic law regarding school buses.  These laws keep our children safe as they travel to and from school.  Keep in mind that most injuries and deaths occur when children are crossing the street after exiting the bus. Please slow down until you have passed them.  Violations of traffic laws regarding school buses carry a steep penalty.  A conviction for failing to stop for a school bus carries a 5-point penalty, maximum fine of $1,000 after a third offense in three years, and your driver license will be revoked for a minimum of 6 months after a third offense in three years.  Additionally, the Driver Responsibility Assessment fine is charged when convicted of 6 points or more within an 18-month period. 

What then are the traffic laws regarding stopped school buses, and what vehicles are considered school buses?  A school bus is painted yellow-orange, has red lights on top, and a “SCHOOL BUS” sign.  Included under the protection of school bus traffic laws are vehicles that transport disabled persons. On all roadways in New York State, when a stopped school bus flashes its red lights, traffic that approaches from either direction, even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway, must stop at least 20 feet away from the bus. This applies even in front of the school and in school parking lots. When the red lights stop flashing or when the bus driver or a traffic officer signals that you can begin driving again. 

A vacation was just what Liza Peeza needed after finishing her first semester at PACE University in Manhattan, New York.  Her ambition in life had always been to become a lawyer.  The reality of long days of school, studying, and temporary jobs had taken their toll.  Liza met her sister AJ and they were headed for home. A road trip with her sister would be nice, but the drive to California would be a killer — over 1,000 miles. As Liza roared through the open road, her hair blew in the wind and she smiled at the fact that home was just 50 miles away. Oh, home sweet home! Flashing lights and a blaring police siren jolted Liza from daydreaming of home. This could not be happening! Noooooooo! Liza was being pulled over for speeding – allegedly going 75 mph in a 55-mph zone.  How would this out of state ticket affect Liza’s NYS driving record?

Liza worried about the ticket on her spotless driving record.  Her worries were soon put to rest when she learned that virtually all out of state traffic convictions do not add violation points to your New York State driving record.  The exception to this is traffic offenses committed in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. 

She was even more delighted to learn that New York State will not suspend a person’s driver license if he or she fails to answer a California traffic violation (scoff). In fact, California is one of six states in which a NYS drivers license will not be suspended for failing answer a traffic violation.  The other states are Alaska, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Wisconsin.  In all other states, your New York State driving privileges will be suspended until you submit proof to the NYS DMV that you have resolved your outstanding ticket.