What Are My Options After Being Default Convicted in New York City?

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.  

Applying to have a NYC default conviction case reopened is very important for drivers who have been default convicted of driving without insurance. This traffic violation (VTL § 319-1) carries a mandatory, and automatic, license revocation for at least one year, PLUS, a mandatory $750 civil penalty. Keep in mind that New York State law requires all motorists to carry insurance. Click here to read more on the difference between a driver’s license suspension and a driver license revocation.

After applying to have a traffic case reopened, one of two things will happen. Either, the application will be granted, or the application will be denied. If the application is granted, then the ticket will be scheduled for trial. 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. But, if the judge rules that the motorist is not guilty, then the case is over and it is as if the ticket was never written; no points will be added to the driver’s driving record nor will the ticket appear on his or her driving history. However, if the application is denied, not all hope is lost. The case can be appealed.

If you have been default convicted, it is not too late to fix things. To learn more about your options, contact The Claro Law Firm today at 917-300-3334 or online New York traffic attorney and traffic lawyer, Elisa Claro, has handled thousands of traffic cases and is waiting to talk to you. The Claro Law Firm handles traffic tickets throughout the state of New York, including New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island; and Westchester County – Peekskill, Mahopac and Briarcliff Manor.