Should I fight this ticket?
August 6, 2012 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Is it worth fighting this New York traffic ticket?

I just got a ticket for violating § 1225-d of the NY code. Is it worth fighting this ticket? What can I expect to gain or lose from pleading guilty or not guilty?

Relevant info:

* I don't own a car, and I don't pay for car insurance. If this will affect car insurance rates down the line, then it might be an issue, but let's just say that I don't care about any points or anything like that for the next year or two.

* I was putting down a GPS. I was not actively pressing any buttons or anything, but I understand that the onus is on me, and that they may well not believe me. Also, they may not care, I'm not sure how the wording of the law matters vis a vis holding vs using.

* The ticket is $130. Taking off of work will be exceedingly hard, but depending on time of day/day of week, it might be doable; the Traffic Violations Bureau is about fifteen minutes from the office.

* I have a clean record. This is my first ticket. I'm 25, and I've had a license for 6 years, so it's not like I have no record of safe driving.

Anything else I'm forgetting, I'll be happy to add.

My first instinct is to plead not guilty, but if it will automatically lead to a court date, where I'm likely to be found guilty anyway, I'll skip it., especially if there's any other fees then tacked on.

But if there's a fair chance that I'll be given an easier way out…
posted by mhz to Law & Government (10 answers total)
I've had good luck going to court even if I was guilty, guilty, guilty. I was polite, respectful and if the cop showed up, I amended my plea to nolo contendre. I usually got a reduced fine and no points.

This worked in California and Florida, in Pennsylvania the magistrate had NO sense of humor.

You may be offered the opportunity to go to traffic school. I'd pay double $130 not to go to traffic school.

My feeling is that they'll claim you were distracted, even if you weren't programming it.

If you have some time to kill traffic court is a hoot. If you'd rather not, pay the ticket.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:30 PM on August 6, 2012

On a top-level read through, "holding" and "using" are identical - it's specifically called out this way in the code.

A GPS device may be a different beast from the other devices referred to in the code, though, so there may be some wiggle room. If you were otherwise not paying attention, though, and this is the lesser of the potential charges selected by the ticketing officer, that wiggle room may be non-existent.
posted by batmonkey at 2:33 PM on August 6, 2012

Its points in NYS but most insurance companies don't apply a surcharge for this offense. It will roll off in 18 months assuming no other charges. So if you don't plan on buying a car in the next 18 months then it doesn't matter. Even if you fight it you will still end up paying a meaning fine and surcharge. I would probably not fight it.
posted by JPD at 2:33 PM on August 6, 2012

There's a non-zero chance of you having to spend the entire work day there (even if you show up early, which you should,) so the distance from your office might be a moot point.
posted by griphus at 2:37 PM on August 6, 2012

In NYS, you will not win. No chance, inevitable defeat. At least not with the experience level you have.

Paying the fine is infinitely better than stepping into the hellhole that is the nys traffic court system.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:01 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

In the rest of NY State outside of NYC, you might have had a chance. However, inside NYC and a few other parts of the state, the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) handles these offenses. You'll be facing a DMV judge deciding how much money you owe the DMV, so your chances are basically slim to none that you won't be found guilty. Unlike a real court, there is no plea bargaining allowed in the TVB system either. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
posted by dcjd at 5:03 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes. Fight it. You are not guilty. A portable electronic devise as described in the law does not include GPS devices.
(a) "Portable electronic device" shall mean any hand-held mobile
telephone, as defined by subdivision one of section twelve hundred
twenty-five-c of this article, personal digital assistant (PDA),
handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager,
broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device,
electronic game, or portable computing device.

Although a judge may take a PDA to be a GPS. The definition of a PDA's access to "mobile data" could include GPS maps. YMMV IANAL.
posted by Gungho at 6:17 AM on August 7, 2012

Just Google about the NYS DMV TVB. It's not regular traffic court, there is no plea bargaining, you're either guilty or innocent. One of many pages about this.

Every time I get a ticket, I'm thankful I live between two counties that use the TVB system and can plea bargain it down to zero points.

Good luck.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:41 PM on August 7, 2012

Ok; seems like I'll have no chance beating it, and it's probably not worth the time. Again, the points don't matter all that much to me, and taking a full day off of work to avoid paying $130 doesn't work out as the best deal for. Even worse a deal so if I still have to pay it.

Because I'm trying really hard to believe it's a good idea to fight it, and I don't feel particularly guilty (I was at a red light coming off of an exit):

Should it matter at all that the gps was plugged in to the car? Does that count as 'attached' in any way? The law seems to exclude attached gps devices.

If I do plead not guilty and get a hearing date, it may just be a date that I'm off of work or something. Aside from the time, what are the risks in pleading not guilty? Like, is guilty in court more expensive? How about not showing for the hearing?

posted by mhz at 6:39 AM on August 9, 2012

You will never win the "It was a GPS not a Phone" argument. I tried to fight a parking ticket for being too close to hydrant once. I took pics of my car with a tape measure to show I was more than the required minimum. I found another parking enforcement person who agreed with me that I was parked legally. I wrote a letter including that persons badge# and the photos I took. Got a letter back saying "pay up"

Guilty in court is more expensive. Pay the $130 bucks.
posted by JPD at 6:50 AM on August 9, 2012

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