Proposal would limit plea agreements for speeders in New York

In New York, if you get a speeding ticket, as in most states, you have the option of challenging the ticket in court. In many cases, those who choose to challenge their traffic tickets can plead down their tickets, as long as the driver does not have a record of dangerous traffic violations and was not speeding too much over the limit. In many cases, the speeding ticket can be pled down to a lesser, nonmoving violation, such as "parking on a highway," which allows motorists to avoid having points assessed on their license. However, a new proposal by Gov. Cuomo would put a stop to this practice.

The politics behind the proposal

One important source of revenue in New York is traffic tickets. By allowing motorists to plead down their speeding tickets to nonmoving violations, the towns and villages where the violation occurred get to keep the revenue from the fine. However, if the offense stays a speeding violation, the revenue goes directly to the state.

According to Gov. Cuomo, the state loses about $58 million per year, due to the practice of pleading down speeding tickets. According to Cuomo's office, there were about 393,000 convictions for parking violations in 2011. Of these, 374,000 were "parking" violations-77,000 of which were pleaded down from speeding tickets. About 26 percent of these were for speeding more than 20 miles-per-hour over the limit.

In order to curtail the practice of pleading down speeding tickets and to protect an important source of state revenue, Cuomo has proposed a couple of new rules. First, the proposal would prevent drivers who are ticketed for exceeding the speed limit by more than 20 miles-per-hour from pleading guilty to a lesser offense. Instead, as part of any plea bargain, any such drivers must plead guilty to a moving violation. This can result in an assessment of driver's license points, resulting in an increase of hundreds of dollars in insurance premiums.

In addition to the limitations of pleading down charges, Cuomo's proposal also would impose an $80 surcharge for traffic violations that result in plea bargains. For those accused of speeding this surcharge would apply to those ticketed for speeding less than 20 miles over the limit that plead down their charge to a "parking" violation. The surcharge would go directly to the state; the town or village would keep the fine for the underlying "parking" offense.

Consult an attorney

If passed, Cuomo's proposal would likely significantly increase the number of offenders who choose to challenge their speeding tickets in court, rather than attempt to plea down their violations. Regardless of whether the proposal passes, it is important to have legal representation if you are accused of a moving violation. Depending on your driving history, you can face anything between a fine and increased insurance premiums to the loss or suspension of your license. Contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney to learn about your legal options.