The Program And Its Purpose

The goal of the defensive driving course (also known as the Point and Insurance Reduction Program (PIRP) or Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course) is to provide drivers with information on lawful driving and give techniques for safe driving. Even though private companies offer in-classroom and online courses, the requirements of the course are regulated by the DMV.

Why Take A Defensive Driving Course?

New York State Driver and Out-of-State Traffic Ticket
True story. While in Idaho visiting my sister, her and I decided to drive to California to see Mom and Dad. I had been driving for about 10 hours and was about 50 miles from my destination when I was pulled over by a California police officer. For nearly the entire trip the speed limit was 75 miles per hour and in a small narrow section of the highway the speed limit dropped to 50 miles per hour and I had not noticed. Needless to say, the officer gave me a speeding ticket. The issuance of that ticket raised a lot of questions, but no answers. Such as, I have a New York driver license, will this California traffic ticket have an effect on my car insurance? Will any points transfer to my NY driving record? Not knowing what to do, I paid the ticket and took a NYS safe driving course hoping that would do the trick.

Surely many other drivers have the same questions I asked when issued an out of state ticket. The good news? There are answers!

Will points be added to my NYS driving record? The short and sweet answer is no, except for traffic ticket issued in the Canadian providences of Ontario and Quebec. Also, the no points will be added rule only applies to non-commercial drivers. So, commercial drivers (CDL) be extra careful when driving in other states.


Red Light Traffic Safety Cameras (RLC) have been around a lot longer than you may think. RLC have been around for more than 20 years in New York. These tickets are treated similar to a parking ticket in that the ticket is written to the owner of the car and not the driver. Since the ticket is issued to the car, no points accrue to the car owner’s driver’s license and the tickets are returnable to Parking Violations Bureau or similar agency. Vehicle and Traffic Law §1111-b outlines the Red Light Camera law.

The tickets themselves are known as NOTICE OF LIABILITY is sent to the registered owner of the car. The ticket contains the date, time and location of the alleged violation, the camera ID number, the fine amount, and information on how to pay the fine or request a hearing. Pictures are also included on the notice.

What is a Junior Driver’s license?

Learner permits, limited-use, and full use, junior driver licenses (Class DJ or MJ) are issued to people learning to drive. Of course, because of the nature of the circumstances, the driving privileges for these types of licenses and permits are limited, or restricted. Meaning there are restrictions placed on the driver – legal “dos and don’ts.”

Did you know? A junior learner permit is different from a junior driver license in that a driver can only drive when supervised. But, a junior driver license holder may be able to enjoy unsupervised driving.

How To Pay A New York State Traffic Ticket FineHow To Pay A Traffic Ticket Fine In New York State

If you find yourself in the position of having to pay a traffic ticket fine to a New York State court or NYC TVB, that means that you plead guilty to the original charge or a lesser charge through the plea bargaining process. A fine levied upon a driver by a court is one of the many fines and penalties that can be issued. For a more in-depth discussion on fines and penalties, please visit our New York State Traffic Ticket Fines and Penalties blog.

The question of how to pay a fine, in part depends on the court handling the traffic ticket. Fines are paid directly to the court. This is true even though you may be charged a mandatory surcharge However, for ticket issued in Buffalo, Rochester, or New York City, the traffic ticket fine is paid to the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) and not a city court.

Each court has its own payment rules, but generally a ticket can be paid by several different ways: online, in person, by phone or by mail. If you are uncertain about the method of payment, contact the court. However, if you hired a traffic ticket attorney to fight the ticket for you, he or she should provide you with payment information.

A finding of guilty to a traffic ticket, or traffic violation, will end with a driver having to pay a fine. This is true whether you hire an attorney to fight the ticket, fight the ticket yourself or just plead guilty.

The answer to the question, “How much is a fine for my ticket and what are the penalties?” is both complicated and uncomplicated. The simple and truthful answer is “Well, it depends.” The reason for this answer is because the fine and penalties of a ticket depend on the traffic ticket or violation charge itself. Other factors that determine fines and penalties include how many points a driver has on his or her driving record, the court handling the ticket and the county in which the ticket was issued. Though, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a fine amount will depend on the severity of a traffic ticket violation/offense and the type of ticket issued (e.g. speeding ticket, red light ticket).

For example, a 3-point speeding ticket (NYS VTL § 1180b) that is a first time offense can pay a fine that ranges from $45 to $150, plus a mandatory surcharge of either $88 or $93.

Reckless driving in New York State is a serious offense and is defined in § 1212 of NY Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL). The law says that a driver can be guilty of reckless driving in one of two ways. The first way a driver can be charged with reckless driving is if he or she is driving in a way that “unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of a public highway.” The second way is if a driver is driving in a way that “unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” However, the law only applies to a person who is driving something that is motorized, or as the law puts it “propelled by any power other than muscular power.” For example, this section of the law would not apply to a person riding a standard bicycle. But, it could apply to a person riding a bicycle that has a motor or has pedal assistance.

Reckless driving in NY is not a violation but a misdemeanor. A violation is not a criminal charge or offense and will not create a criminal record for a driver. But, a misdemeanor is a criminal charge or offense and will create a criminal record for a driver. Aside from consequences like jail time or paying money, a criminal record can also have an impact of immigration status, employment opportunity (e.g. via background checks), regulatory agency licenses and reputation, especially in the court of public opinion. Criminal records will follow you around for the rest of your life.

When charged with a criminal offense, a person has a right to free legal counsel. Also, before your constitutional right to liberty (freedom) can be taken away from you, you are entitled to a trial. Whether the trier of fact is the judge or a jury, the charge against a person must meet a burden of proof. The burden of proof must be met by the prosecutor and in criminal cases; the burden of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt.” What this means is that before the judge or jury can decided that a person is guilty of a criminal charge, the prosecutor must prove each and every element of the crime beyond reasonable doubt.

Have you ever hear the phrase or terminology “roadside reduction” perhaps from an attorney or a police officer and wondered what it means? What is a roadside reduction? A roadside reduction is when a police officer stops a driver and issues him or her a ticket for something other than the original reason why the driver was stopped. That sounds confusing, but here is an illustration: Michael is late to work, and to minimize his tardiness, he is speeding. Officer Q. Meruit catches Michael driving 80mph in a 55mph speed zone. This means that Michael was driving 25mph over the posted speed limit. This is a six point speeding violation according to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (NYS VTL). Officer Q. Meruit is feeling generous and tells Michael that she could write him a six point speeding ticket, but instead she is going to issue him a ticket for running a stop sign – a 3-point violation. What Officer Q. Meruit did was give Michael a roadside reduction by reducing the points Michael was charged with during the initial stop. Make sense?

Ultimately, the reduced violation “roadside reduction” is up to the officer to decide what he or she will issue the driver. Roadside reductions can vary and can range from a reduction in speed (e.g. a six point speed to a three point speed) to VTL § 1172a stop sign ticket (e.g. four point speed to a three point violation). However, the most common roadside reduction is VTL § 1110a – disobeyed a traffic control device. This is a two point violation. A traffic control device is anything that is intended to direct traffic, such as a marking on the road, a traffic light or a traffic sign.

While a roadside reduction is convenient for a driver, it has drawbacks too. A roadside reduction is usually noted on the supporting disposition that accompanies the ticket, thereby notifying the prosecutor, officer and the Court of the reduction. Thus, courts will generally not reduce the ticket further. This means that if Michael pleads not guilty to the stop sign violation and goes to court on the day of his pre-trial conference, the officer and court would not agree to plea-bargain his ticket. Michael will have to plead guilty to the stop sign ticket. So, when consulting with a traffic attorney about your case, make sure to mention to him or her in your initial consultation that the officer gave you a roadside reduction.

Is there anything that can be done after having been found guilty of a traffic violation in New York City Department of Motor Vehicles, Traffic Violations Bureau (NYC DMV TVB)?

Being found guilty or convicted in NYC can be a serious because, depending on the violation, a motorist can find himself or herself paying thousands of dollars in car insurance increases and New York State Driver Responsibility Assessment, to name a few. But, it is important to understand the process of the courts in the five New York City boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

The DMV TVB runs the courts in these New York City boroughs. Because the courts are run by an Administrative Agency and not the city, town or village, they set and follow their own rules. The biggest difference between a NYC DMV TVB and other courts is that there is no “plea bargaining” or negotiating. This means that you cannot ask for and receive a lesser charge, such as a parking ticket, instead of the speeding ticket you were issued. Instead, every ticket goes to trial. Yes, a real trial with direct testimony and cross-examination. At the end of the trial, the judge will decide whether or not the driver is guilty or not guilty of the original violation. 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.

Emergency Driving

Have you ever been driving on the parkway and seen a car on the shoulder of the parkway with the hood up, smoke coming from the engine?  Or missing a tire?  Or a car engulfed in flames?  No doubt being an eyewitness to these incidents makes a person driving more cautiously, even if the cautiousness is temporary. But, if you suddenly encounter one of these emergency situations, how should you react?  Are there steps that can be taken to help you stay safe? Yes there are.

First and foremost, keep calm.  When experiencing an emergency on the road, the worst reaction is to panic and slam on the brakes.  This reaction can cause the worst outcome.  Discussed below are several possible driving emergencies and the Do’s and Don’ts of each situation. 

Tire blowout and loss of a tire. A telltale sign of an impending blowout (bursting tire) and loss of a tire (e.g. tire falling off an axel) is a thumping sound.  If you hear this thumping noise, find the first available safe place to pull off the road and check your tires. However, if a blowout or loss of a tire occurs before you can do so,