I fought the law...who won?
June 19, 2009 7:47 AM   Subscribe

What happens if I plead not guilty to my parking ticket, even though I am essentially guilty?

I live in New York City, and I was in a traffic jam the other day and I went around some cars into a part of the street that had white diagonal lines on it and got pulled over. Apparently, this is a moving violation which means 2 points on my license and a $120.00 fine. I'm really pissed about it, even though I pretty much knew I wasn't supposed to drive on it, though I had seen about 15 motorists do the same before I took the leap (I understand that this is not a valid excuse to fight a ticket).

I do not want to pay for this ticket, and I especially don't want to have two points on my license for going 15 miles an hour in a "non-driving area."

What happens if I plead not guilty? I have to go to court? If they find me guilty anyway, do i have to pay court costs?

Thanks, MeFites
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (13 answers total)
Yes, you will have to go to court. Yes, you will have to pay court costs if you are found guilty anyway. There are many previous questions on whether to bother challenging the ticket or not. Many people report success in getting the ticket converted to something that has less impact to your driving record. However, such people tend to have relatively clean driving records. So, your mileage may vary.
posted by saeculorum at 7:53 AM on June 19, 2009

A moving violation is not a "parking ticket." If you show you don't take this seriously you won't have as much luck in mitigation.
posted by grouse at 8:00 AM on June 19, 2009

This boils down to "I don't want to pay for this ticket." Tough, neither do any of the people who get tickets! Just because other people didn't get caught doesn't mean it's not a moving violation. You will have to pay court costs if you go and are found guilty, and yes you will have to go to court if you plead not guilty. What do you think will happen -- you will plead not guilty and some judge will go, "Aww, shucks, you're right. Let's throw this one out!" without hearing your or the police officer's side of things?.

Think about it this way, another "non-driving area" is the sidewalk -- would you object to getting a ticket for going 15 mph on the sidewalk? Tickets are supposed to be inconvenient and cost you -- it's a deterrent to keep you from doing it again (while raising revenue for the city).
posted by proj at 8:02 AM on June 19, 2009 [6 favorites]

You're going to have to pay the ticket. If you act contrite, i.e. not like an asshole, you may be able to sucessfully talk it down to a non moving violation. In this case you would be on the hook for more "court costs" for changing the charges, but you would not be assessed points. It's almost always worth it to have th points off your license. You do the math.
posted by notsnot at 8:21 AM on June 19, 2009

Just a note: those white diagonal lines are often the buffered space between the bike lane and regular lanes, so bikers have room to maneuver around obstacles. So proj's comparison to driving on the sidewalk is particularly apt.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:25 AM on June 19, 2009

You might be able to reduce it to one point if you go to driving school (online, even). Is there a court date set on the ticket, or is it a mail-only ticket? If you go to the court on the date to pay the ticket, they may offer you the driving school deal. That's how it works in CA, anyways (sometimes). YMMV.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2009

There are lawyers that specialize in this type of thing. Usually the cost about what the ticket costs (as I understand it, its pretty routine). They'll probably get you off entirely, but of course then you're paying legal fees. If its just a matter of principle to you though then it might be worth it.

Note: I've never used a lawyer for this, but a friend who was a habitual speeder did all the time.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2009

Ever heard of "throwing yourself on the mercy of the court?" Also known as groveling. Points are worse for you in the long run than a heavier fine.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:39 AM on June 19, 2009

In NYC you plead not guilty, you talk with the city lawyer, treat him like a human being - and you probably get away with being pled down to something w/o points but with a similar sized fine. If that isn't enough for you then go to trial - but your only hope of winning there is if the cop doesn't show up - which does not happen as much as people like to think.
posted by JPD at 9:06 AM on June 19, 2009

You're lucky that this is a parking violation, otherwise, you'd be going to the TVB, where you'd have no chance of success (google for more).

posted by Brian Puccio at 10:18 AM on June 19, 2009

Go to court, contritely and briefly admit that you are guilty, but (in as few words as possible, preferably within a sentence) say why you did it. You might get a reduced fine or probation or something.

For instance, I got a speeding ticket, and here's what I said, verbatim:

"Guilty with an explanation, your honor: I sped up to get in front of other cars, to get into the left lane for the freeway entrance."

The result: immediate probation on the ticket, so it cost me less, and didn't impact my insurance. This was in Chicago, so YMMV. Also, this might be too much work and too long odds for the potential benefit. You're going to have to decide on that one, and remember: the less you talk, the more succinct and respectful and clear-spoken you are, the more likely they'll favor you -- because let's face it, most of the people who come up are lawyered up or at least full of a big long story to tell, and they'll appreciate you just making your case and pleasantly accepting the judgement while wasting as little of their time as possible.
posted by davejay at 2:26 PM on June 19, 2009

clarification: the judge will appreciate you just making your case and so on.
posted by davejay at 2:27 PM on June 19, 2009

I once got pulled over for cutting through a gas station to avoid a light, when I did no such thing even remotely. I went to court (in NYC) to fight it out of principle, and it was SUCH a grueling experience that even after I won (barely..after explaining about 50 times how there was no possible way I could have and no reason I would have done such a thing), I honestly wished I'd just pleaded guilty.

Considering you *are* guilty I give you a .5% chance of actually getting let off. Going to court is most likely a giant waste of your time and if your experience turns out to be anything like mine, a total mental health suck as well.
posted by infinityjinx at 6:55 PM on June 19, 2009

« Older Kid doesn't want to learn how to ride a bike. Do...   |   Face it next season isn't until next year... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.