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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In New York?

In New York, violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Laws are designated by the Criminal Justice System as either infractions or violations. Violations are further subclassified into felonies and misdemeanors. The categorization of each act designated as an offense by state statutes is based on its severity.

Infractions are traffic offenses that are punishable by fines and, in some cases, jail time. Infractions are not considered criminal offenses and do not appear on the offender’s criminal record in New York. Felony and misdemeanor traffic offenses, on the other hand, are serious violations that may result in harsh punishments such as prison terms, fines, and a criminal record.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In New York?

In New York, felony traffic violations are the most serious traffic offenses. Compared to misdemeanors and infractions, felonies carry harsher penalties such as higher fines, longer terms in state prison, and other collateral consequences. The minimum prison term for a felony offense is one year.

Generally, traffic violations that cause severe harm or pose a risk of serious harm to another person, property, or the public are felonies. Also, traffic violations can be classified as felonies based on

  • the degree of offense,
  • the offender’s criminal history,
  • the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.

For example, in New York, it is a crime to drive a vehicle while the operating ability is impaired (DWAI) or while intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances (DWI).. Depending on the volume of alcohol consumed and other accompanying conditions, a DWAI or DWI can be classified as a felony.

A first-time traffic violation, such as a first-time DWI is a misdemeanor. However, a subsequent DWI offense in 10 years will be classified as a Class E felony. Third and subsequent offenses are classified as Class D felonies. Vehicular assault is also a felony traffic violation in New York. In New York, a first-degree vehicular assault is a Class D felony (PEN 120.04),, while second-degree vehicular assault is a Class E felony (PEN 120.03).. Aggravated vehicular assault is a Class C felony (PEN 120.4-A)..

The penalty for a felony traffic violation in New York depends on the degree or classification of the offense. Generally, felonies are classified into six categories, and the punishment applicable varies according to the class of the offense (PEN 70)..


Some examples of felony traffic violations in New York include:

  • Aggravated vehicular homicide
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Aggravated vehicular assault
  • Vehicular assault in the first degree
  • Vehicular assault in the second degree
  • Repeat DWI offenses
  • Driving with a suspended license or revoked registration

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In New York?

In New York, traffic misdemeanors are violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law that are less serious than felony traffic violations. Traffic misdemeanors are deemed to cause less harm or pose less risk of harm to other people, property, or the public, hence such offenses carry less severe penalties than felony traffic violations.

However, traffic misdemeanors are more serious than traffic infractions and are punishable by fines through tickets, and in some cases, jail terms. Traffic misdemeanors can also result in other collateral consequences such as driving record points, and the suspension or revocation of the offender’s driver’s license or driving privileges.

Under the New York criminal code, misdemeanors are generally classified into three classes depending on the severity of the offense (PEN 55–05).. These classes include A, B, and unclassified misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are punishable by prison terms of no more than 364 days and no less than 15 days. Fines of up to $1,000 may also be imposed in addition to prison terms.

Under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, first misdemeanor traffic offenses are punishable by imprisonment for no more than 30 days, fine of no more than $300, or by both imprisonment and fines (VAT 1801)..

Second convictions of misdemeanor violations within 18 months are punishable by fines of up to $525, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both imprisonment and fines. Third and subsequent convictions of misdemeanor violations within 18 months are punishable by fines of up to $1,125, imprisonment for up to 180 days, or both imprisonment and fines.

Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In New York?

Examples of traffic misdemeanors in New York state include:

  • First-offense DWI
  • Reckless driving
  • Speed-racing on the highway
  • Aggravated unlicensed operation
  • Leaving the scene of an accident involving injury to another person
  • Driving with bad or disconnected brakes
  • Driving without proper registration
  • Failure to appear in court

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In New York?

Traffic infractions are minor violations of any local law or regulation under New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law and are not considered criminal offenses (VAT 155).. Infractions are sometimes called “petty offenses.” Compared to felonies and misdemeanors, infractions are the least serious traffic violations and are punishable by prison terms, fines, or forfeitures.

Violations of parking and pedestrian laws typically result in less severe penalties than many other infractions. These violations are handled by local parking courts or violations bureau. However, non-criminal moving traffic violations are handled by the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Moving traffic violations may be punished by fines through tickets and citations.

Persons issued non-criminal moving violations tickets or citations may choose to plead “not guilty” to the ticket and schedule a hearing at the TVB in the jurisdiction where the ticket was issued. However, this must be done within 15 days of the date the violation is recorded. Delayed responses to tickets may result in a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license.

Under VAT 1800, first convictions of traffic infractions are punishable by fines of no less than $150 and no more than $450, imprisonment for no more than 15 days, or by both imprisonment and fines. A second conviction within 18 months is punishable by a fine of no less than $300 and no more than $750, imprisonment for no more than 45 days, or both imprisonment and fines. Third and subsequent convictions of traffic infractions within 18 months are punishable by fines of no less than $750 and no more than $1,500, imprisonment for no more than 90 days, or by both fine and imprisonment.

Examples Of Traffic Infractions In New York?

  • Failure to obey traffic-control devices
  • Violating speed limits
  • Failure to yield right of way
  • Selling or soliciting on the highway
  • Following too closely
  • Making illegal U-turns
  • Clinging to other vehicles
  • Riding a horse on a roadway at night
  • Leaving running vehicles unattended
  • Opening vehicle doors to moving traffic

How Does Traffic Ticket Work In New York?

While traffic tickets may be issued by law enforcement officers in New York state, non-criminal moving violation tickets are managed by the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The TVB manages non-criminal traffic tickets in New York City; however, in parts of the state outside New York City, traffic violations are processed by traffic courts or criminal courts in the county, city, or town where the offense took place.

To answer a traffic ticket outside New York City, persons issued with traffic tickets must contact the traffic court or criminal court in the county, city, village, or town where the offense took place directly. Typically, the court will be indicated on the ticket and the date of a court hearing.

Persons issued with traffic tickets may plead guilty or not guilty. If a guilty plea is entered, the offender must pay applicable fines and surcharges. If a not guilty plea is entered, the person may schedule a date for a court hearing. Pleas and payments can be made online, by mail, and in person.

After a court hearing, the decision of a DMV administrative law judge may be appealed within 30 days of the decision. Appeals may be filed with the TVB online, in person, by phone, or by mail by submitting a completed Appeal Form and paying applicable fees.

Persons who fail to answer their ticket may be arrested and have their driver’s license suspended. Parking violations are not processed by the DMV or TVB; to answer traffic tickets, offenders or accused persons may contact local authorities directly.

Persons who have been issued traffic tickets may file a motion to have the ticket dismissed by filing a notice of motion with a supporting affidavit. Such persons must plead “not guilty” to the ticket and be able to provide evidence or defense against the ticket. Evidence or defense offered may be:

  • A traffic equipment malfunction
  • Misidentification of the accused person’s vehicle
  • A miscalculation of the speed at which the person was driving

Such defenses must be proved beyond reasonable doubt for a traffic ticket to be dismissed. Persons who have been issued traffic tickets may also be able to have them dismissed if they agree to take a defensive driving course.

In New York, most traffic offenses carry violation points. The Driver Violation Point System is used by the DMV to identify and penalize high-risk drivers. Accumulated points may result in a suspension of the offender’s license and other civil and financial consequences. Point hearings are held after a person is found guilty of a traffic offense. Taking an accident prevention course approved by the DMV can reduce point totals.

Are Traffic/driving Records Public In New York?

Under New York state’s Freedom of Information Law, driving records may be requested by members of the public. However, driving records are protected by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), which regulates access to and use of personal information on driving records. The release of personal driving information requires the driver’s consent.

Apart from persons named on a driving record, other parties authorized to request a driving record under the DPPA include:

  • Government agencies
  • Licensed businesses or employees
  • Insurers or insurance support organizations
  • Licensed private investigative agencies
  • Requesters with the written consent of the person named on the record

Persons who do not meet the DPPA requirements for permissible use of personal information on driving records may receive a masked driving record. This type of record does not reveal personal information typically present on a driving record such as the driver’s address, phone numbers, DMV ID, gender, name, date of birth, eye color, and social security number. However, the masked record may contain other record information like:

  • Accident history
  • Convictions of moving violations
  • Revocations and suspensions
  • Restrictions and endorsements
  • Current status and class of the license

Personal information such as social security numbers, photos, medical and disability information is only released to persons with a “so ordered” subpoena signed by a New York state or federal judge.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Find Traffic/driving Records In New York?

The DMV manages driving records in New York. Depending on the record type, driving records can be ordered online, in person at the DMV office, or by mail. Personal standard, lifetime, and commercial driving records can be requested online through the MyDMV portal. The access fee is $7, and a recent New York state license will be required to complete a request.

Standard and lifetime driving records can also be requested by mail. To request these types of records, applicants must submit a completed Request for Certified DMV Records form. It must be mailed, together with a photocopy of proof of identity and a money order or personal check for $10 to “Commissioner of Motor Vehicles” to:

MV–15 Processing

NYS Department of Motor Vehicles

6 Empire State Plaza

Albany, NY 12228

Only personal standard driving records may be requested in person at a DMV office. Applicants must present a completed Request for Driving Record Information form along with a proof of identity and the $10 fee at a local DMV office. Acceptable means of identification include driver’s licenses or other government-issued photo IDs. Payments can be made through credit cards, cash, money orders, and personal checks payable to “Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.”

Requests for another person’s driving records may be made by mail using the MV–15 form or in person at a DMV office using the MV–15c form. Along with proof of identity and the $10 fee, it must be presented at:

Customer Service Counter

Room 136

Swan Street Building

Empire State Plaza

Albany, NY 12228


Generally, New York has no provision for expunging criminal records. However, records of some offenses may be sealed partially or totally. Under CPL 160.55, some traffic violations and infractions, except DWAI and Loitering for the purpose of prostitution, are automatically sealed. Sealing means that the records still exist but will no longer be accessible to the public. Sealed records will not show up on criminal records searches. However, court records of violations and infractions are not sealed in this case.

Records of offenses for which a defendant gets a favorable disposition are also automatically sealed, and these include court records. Records of juvenile and youthful offenders may also be sealed; however, records of violent crimes may not be eligible for sealing in New York.

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