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Gov. Cuomo Proposes Plea Limits, $80 Surcharge for Speeding Tickets

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced a budget proposal that has both defense attorneys and local governments talking. His proposal would increase the fines for common nonmoving violations, or “parking on the pavement” violations, by $80. That surcharge would go to the state. He also wants to make it more difficult for defendants to bargain their speeding charges down to nonmoving violations if they were going 20 mph or more over the speed limit.

“What we’re trying to do is stop the wholesale plea bargaining for dangerous offenses,” the governor’s spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, said.

Yet, many believe that the state is using this as a tactic to bring in more money and take money away from local governments. This is because the state receives money from the fines if, for example, a person pleads to a two-point violation down from a six-point violation, while the municipality receives money if the defendant pleads to a parking offense or other nonmoving violation.

For those accused of speeding, the question is not “Who gets the money?” but “How can I avoid points on my record and additional fines?” If this is a state vs. local government fight for revenue, why must defendants pay the price? This proposal takes away a prosecutor’s full ability to assess the charges and the defendant’s driving history and make an informed decision regarding those charges.

As John Bowman from the National Motorists Association puts it, “It’s simply an intrusive, opportunistic way to wring more money out of New York drivers. Plea bargaining is a well-established practice at all levels. We believe that flexibility in the system is important to dispensing justice.”

Plea Bargaining for Traffic Offenses — Is It Worth the Fight?

Traffic offenses like speeding may seem minor, but they can add up. Going 1 to 10 mph over the speed limit can put three points on your driving record. Traveling 110 in a 50 mph speed zone can lead to 11 points. Once a person has six points on his or her driving record, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will charge that driver $300, and the fines increase as the points increase.

Eleven points in 18 months gives the DMV the option to suspend or revoke your license for one month. That means that two tickets for traveling more than 20 mph over the speed limit can lead to license suspension.

That is why fighting traffic tickets, and using the plea bargaining process, is important. No matter what boundaries Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature put in place for plea deals, an experienced traffic ticket defense attorney can still negotiate for a lesser charge and, where appropriate, take the fight to court.

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