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Proposed bill would allow some New York drivers to plea bargain tickets

A bill currently before the New York legislature would allow drivers to plea bargain traffic tickets they receive when driving in Buffalo. New York drivers should be aware of the potential changes to their options for handling traffic tickets that would occur if the law passes.

Negotiating traffic citations

Currently, drivers who receive traffic citations in Buffalo have the option of either pleading guilty or not guilty to the ticket. Drivers may also request a hearing to have a judge make a decision in the matter. People do not have the option of negotiating about the fines they pay if they plead guilty. The bill before the legislature would allow drivers who receive traffic citations within the city limits to plead guilty to the offense and bargain with the state to try to negotiate a lower fine for the citation. The bill would apply to all traffic citations, including speeding, improper lane changes, running stop lights or stop signs and illegal U-turns. Some smaller communities in New York already have the authority to allow drivers plead guilty to traffic tickets and negotiate the fines associated with the tickets.

Another provision in the bill would allow drivers who commit serious driving offenses to go to driving school as a means of keeping the points from accruing on their driving records and their insurance rates from rising.

Increased revenue for the city

The bill would allow the city to keep the money that it collects from the fines. The surcharges included with the tickets would still go to the state. Currently, the state receives all of the funds collected from Buffalo traffic tickets. Given that the state would lose out on between $500,000 and $1 million in funds, it is unclear whether Gov. Cuomo would sign the bill if it makes it past both chambers of the legislature.

Seek legal help

Drivers who receive traffic tickets should seek the assistance of a skilled traffic ticket lawyer. An attorney can advise a driver about whether to fight a ticket or to plead guilty and try to negotiate a lower penalty when there is the opportunity to do so. If you have questions about traffic tickets, speak with a skilled traffic violation lawyer who can discuss your options with you and help you minimize the damage that the tickets can do to your driving record and your life.