Commercial Vehicle Safety Tickets
A commercial vehicle and its owner and/or operator are subject to 2 provisions of New York State Law. One provision is under New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 385 (NY VTL § 385), and New York’s Transportation Law § 140 (NY TL § 140).
While much of New York’s general vehicle and traffic law violations are applicable to commercial vehicles as well as non-commercial vehicles, some sections, such as VTL § 385(9) is only applicable to commercial vehicles. In particular, VTL § 385(9) is the prohibition against operating an overweight vehicle. While that is neither a moving violation nor a misdemeanor, the fines are predicated on how overweight the vehicle is, and can go up to $4,700.00.
In contrast, New York’s Transportation Law is applicable to only commercial vehicles. For example, NY TL § 212 contains the state’s log book violation provisions. While it carries no points it is a misdemeanor, which means that it is a crime.
The violations under NY TL § 140 are no point non-criminal equipment violations but the fines can be severe. Depending on the violation, the MINIMUM FINE for the first offense PER VIOLATION is $350.00 for equipment violations effecting the operation of the vehicle, $500.00 for an unsecure load, and $150.00 driver and paperwork violations. The court can fine up to $1,250.00 on a first conviction for many of these violations.
Further, the law prohibits a prosecutor from plea bargaining some of the violations, and mandates that upon proof of repair some of the violations must be dismissed. Then there are those in the middle, i.e., that it is within the prosecutors discretion to dismiss upon proof of completion. Mandatorily dismissed violations are referred to as “correctable” violations. Most of the violations in this section are only appropriately written to the vehicle owner and not the operator.
Whether or not a violation is correctable depends upon what the charge is and whether the vehicle is subsequently placed out of service. For example, a breaking system violation is not dismissible whether or not the owner subsequently repairs the condition or places the vehicle out of service. Further, there are strict time limits and detailed forms that need to be completed for mandated correctable dismissals.
How we handle Transportation Law Tickets
If you are reading this you were probably handed a stack of violations a few weeks ago. Your date for any mandatory dismissals on correctable violations has already passed. Possibly your court date is quickly approaching or may have just passed. First off, stop worrying. This is how most of my clients come to me with these tickets.
What I need you to do is fax us the tickets and any other documents the police or inspector handed you. Fax us at 914-777-2999. Or you can scan them in and e-mail to Michael@MPalumboLaw.com. Make certain to leave your contact information. Within 24 hours, either Michael Palumbo, attorney Mark Kosofsky or our paralegal traffic specialist will get back to you and explain in plain English what the charges are, what the fines would be if you plead guilty as charged, and whether you are in default with the court and how to remediate that. We will also give you a price for our service. Our fee will either be (a) a 1 time flat fee, or (b) a fee to enter the plea and for 1 court appearance and then additional fees for subsequent court appearances if we cannot resolve the matter at the first appearance. Whatever or fee may be, it will make sense compared to the fines for mailing the tickets in with a guilty plea.
Our litigation strategy is to have you repair all of the discretionary and mandatory correctable violations, even if the repair is late. Then we work with the prosecutor to show that the repair work was done and provide them with any follow-up documents they may want. While attorney disciplinary rules require that I disclose past performance does not guarantee future success, we typically get any ticket that is within the prosecutor’s discretion to dismiss dismissed, even if the repair was done late. Then we plead guilty the remaining non-negotiable tickets for a promise of the minimum fine.
For example, our office recently represented an owner/operator in New Rochelle, NY on six NY TL § 140 tickets. If found guilty as charged the fine would have been $2,100.00. Two of the tickets were correctible but the date for repair had passed; two were discretionary dismissals, and two the prosecutor was unauthorized by law to dismiss. First, I had the case adjourned. Next, I had my client repair all of the violations. Then I set the matter down for conference with the prosecutor. There we negotiated a dismissal for four of the six tickets and a guilty plea for the minimum sentence of $350.00 fine each on the two tickets the prosecutor could not offer a reduction or dismissal. With my legal fee my client ended up paying only $1,200.00 and never had to go to court. This was a $900.00 savings plus it kept the owner/operator on the road.