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,

New York State VTL § 1220 Refuse Law
York State Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1220 covers the topic of refuse (garbage) disposal, the consequences of being ticketed for this violation, and situations where this law is not applicable.  

VTL § 1220 “THE LAW”

This Vehicle and Traffic Law outlines what refuse or “garbage” can and cannot be thrown on highways and land adjacent to a highway. A fancy way of saying: “littering.” The law does not allow a person to leave, place or discard any garbage, including litter or nauseous or offensive matter, on highways and land adjacent to a highway.

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)


“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.


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.


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?


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.