How long do points stay on my driving record? Points remain on your record for 18 months as far as determining possible license suspensions and/or assessments. What this means is that DMV will total up points within an 18 month period, counting from violation dates, in order to determine whether to take license action and whether you are subject to the Driver Responsibility Assessment. Insurance companies look at points over a longer period of time (approximately 3 and one half years depending upon the company.)
Can I just delay my tickets for longer than 18 months so that the points go away? No. The DMV looks at points based on the violation date of the summons. No matter how long you delay, once a conviction hits your record, the DMV will count those points from the date of violation, not the date of conviction. Delaying tickets can be an effective strategy for fighting summonses, but being guilty later will only delay consequences, not eliminate them.
If I am a New York State driver who gets a moving violation summons out of state, will the points count on my New York record? No, mostly. If you are licensed in New York State and are ticketed in another state, the points will not count on your New York record. However, your insurance company may still look at them and raise your insurance rates as a result. In addition, due to agreements between New York State and Quebec and Ontario, points will be assessed to New York drivers for summonses received in those two Canadian provinces.
Should I still fight a traffic ticket even if I believe I am guilty? In my opinion, yes. For the most part, police officers are not out there writing bad tickets. If you drive enough, eventually you will likely get a ticket for something. You will not always win, but it is often possible to plea bargain a summons to fewer or no points, and even in New York City, where plea bargaining is not allowed, it is possible to win after a hearing. Whether a lawyer, or a self-represented motorist, is able to get a good result with a traffic summons usually has little to do with whether the driver actually committed the infraction. By fighting all summonses which carry points, the law of averages will work in your favor.
Should I hire a lawyer to fight my traffic summons? It depends. For minor summonses, especially if your record is otherwise good, it may not pay to hire a lawyer. My advice to fight every point ticket does not mean you should always hire a lawyer. For more serious charges, such as high speeds, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, or any other charges where you can be assessed five or more points, I think it is important to have representation. In addition, if you have a bad driving record, it is also advisable to retain a lawyer. I am always happy to discuss your summons and I do not charge for a consultation.
How many points can I have before my license gets suspended? According to the New York State DMV website, your license may be suspended if you get 11 or more points in 18 months. It is important to understand that suspension is discretionary, not mandatory, once you reach the 11 point threshold.
How can I get rid of points? The short answer is you can't. You can take the Point Insurance Reduction Program which subtracts 4 points from your total. For example, if you have 13 points on your record and you take the point reduction course, you will only have nine for the purpose of determining whether your license should be suspended. However, even if you take the course, the points will remain on your record and the points do not come off for the purpose of calculating the Driver Responsibility Assessment.
Should I accept a plea bargain or have a trial? Speaking only of traffic tickets, you should almost always plea bargain a traffic ticket if you have the chance. There are several reasons for this. Number one is that the plea offers in traffic court are usually excellent. Police agencies issue a lot of tickets and traffic fines are an important source of revenue for many towns and villages. Judges and prosecutors do not want to devote limited resources to trying traffic cases. As a driver, you benefit from this fact since the plea bargains offered in local justice courts are usually too good to pass up. When this is not the case, then it does pay to go to trial since these cases can sometimes be won. It is important to note that in New York City, where summonses are adjudicated by the Traffic Violations Bureau, plea bargaining is not available. In New York City the only option is to fight the ticket at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. What I have written regarding plea bargains is much less true with respect to criminal charges. Whether or not to accept a plea bargain in a criminal case is always a judgment call which depends upon the facts and circumstances of your particular case.
Do summonses I receive in New York State count on my New Jersey license? If you are licensed in New Jersey and are convicted of a traffic violation which carries points in New York, points will be assessed in New Jersey. However, the points are not assessed point for point. Instead, a New Jersey driver who gets a summons with points in New York will be assessed two motor vehicle points in New Jersey.
I received a red light camera ticket in the mail, should I fight it? Probably not. These tickets are expensive and very annoying. I am sure there are traffic safety advocates who disagree with me, but I look at these as one more example of the government picking your pocket. Having said that, it is very difficult to successfully defend against a camera ticket and they do not carry points. Therefore I suggest just paying them...doesn't mean you have to be happy about it.