Although New York City can be easily reached and navigated using public transportation, the historic city is an easy three-hour drive from Delaware. Folks from Delmarva who choose to take their own car to tour the Big Apple should be mindful of violating local traffic laws. Despite what some may think, a ticket issued in New York City can and will follow a driver back home. That’s because both states participate in what is called the Driver’s License Compact. Member states share information about each other’s drivers. Each state will also inform another member state of any traffic convictions that occur within its borders.
If I am a resident of Delaware and I get a traffic ticket in New York City, do I need a lawyer where I live or do I need a lawyer in New York City?
Delaware residents issued a ticket in New York City must hire an attorney licensed to practice in the state of New York. Regardless of where a driver is licensed, a ticket issued in New York City represents a violation of local or state laws. Thus it is critical that the driver hire an attorney familiar with those laws, the associated penalties, and the potential impact it can have on a driver’s record.
If there are points in the New York City traffic ticket case, will they appear on my Delaware driver’s license?
New York City (and the rest of the state) assigns a point value to most traffic violations. If convicted of an offense in NYC, the points will not appear on a Delaware driving record—but the conviction itself certainly will.
However, it would be incorrect to assume that the points associated with a NYC traffic ticket don’t matter. Drivers from any state who are convicted of one or more violations worth six points or more in NYC will be subject to an additional fee called a Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA). A DRA costs $300 plus an additional $75 for each point over six, in addition to the fine and a mandatory state surcharge of $88.
In addition, a Delaware driver who commits one or more offenses in NYC totaling 11 points or more can have their driving privileges in New York State suspended. As part of the Compact, once informed of the suspension, Delaware can choose to suspend the driver’s Delaware license in kind.
If I hire a lawyer to fight my traffic ticket, can I do it without having to appear in court in New York City?
Most likely! For the majority of traffic cases in New York, an attorney is permitted to appear in court in lieu of the driver. In fact, an experienced NYC traffic attorney can handle the consultation with the driver over the phone, meaning there is no reason for him/her to have to return at all.
I heard that the courts in New York City are so clogged up that nothing will happen if I ignore the ticket case. True?
False. While New York City’s Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) is very busy, there is no chance a driver can ignore a ticket without consequences—and those consequences are serious. Firstly, failing to respond to a NYC traffic ticket means the driver will ultimately be found guilty by default. Secondly, failing to respond to or pay a traffic ticket can result in a suspension of the right to drive in New York. As mentioned, that means Delaware could choose to suspend the license.
I’m not sure what the officer charged me with or why. How can I find out? Is there discovery, like in Delaware?
Drivers who are not sure what they are being charged with can call the TVB. By providing information from the ticket, TVB operators can look up the charges associated with it. Since the NYC Traffic Violations Bureau is not part of the court system but rather an administrative hearing office that is part of the Department of Motor Vehicles, traditional discovery rules (as well as many others) do not apply.
Note that while this article pertains to violations issued in New York City, there are different rules and procedures that apply to tickets issued elsewhere in the state. As such, a driver is well advised to contact a New York attorney for further information.
Adam Rosenblum, Esq. is the founder of TrafficTickets.com, a traffic ticket law firm that practices traffic ticket and criminal law in both New York and New Jersey.