Articles Posted in Traffic Law

Life changes frequently and because it does, so do traffic laws. These traffic laws change in order to try and keep up with life changes of the public, and drivers in particular. One such law that has changed is New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Article 33, section 1222 which governs passengers riding in the bed of a pickup, or auto truck. This law controls who can ride in the bed of a pickup truck and under what circumstances. Like all laws, there are exceptions to this rule.

To Whom The Law Applies

Interestingly, these laws apply to drivers who are traveling a distance over five miles. Thus, it can be assumed, those traveling a distance less than five miles are not subject to these regulations.

Ice Cream Truck Laws (VTL §1225-b)

LAWS FOR ICE CREAM TRUCKS?

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”  Did you ever chant this as a child?  Or excitedly wait for the musical sound of the ice cream truck driving through the neighborhood?  Then stare up at the vividly colored picture menu displaying the choices available.  These days even pictures of adorable dogs getting ice cream can be found on social media.

As an adult, it is interesting to learn that there are laws that regulate how an ice cream truck can sell ice cream to the public. At first, this may seem laughable, but these laws are important because, like all laws they create order and provide a measure of safety to the public – especially children.

PEDESTRIAN RIGHTS AND DUTIES

Have you ever wondered what the laws are that govern pedestrian crossing? Such as, “Who has the right of way?” This is a good question. Undoubtedly this question comes to mind when you are insisting on the right of way as a driver or insisting on the right of way when traveling on foot. But, here is what the law has to say.

GOVERNING LAW

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?

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. 

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.