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NY 70 in 55 zone on state rd

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nkona

Member
I received a VTL Section 1180B ticket 3 days ago on a state road (type 2 - State) in Town of Ulster NY by an officer of NY State Police.
Ticket states 70 in a 55mph zone.
Charge based on Officers Direct Observation
Speed verified by Radar, model Stalker Dual
Arrest type: 1 - Patrol
Court: Ulster Town Court

I was coming over a hill where I know there is often a police officer waiting in between the 4 lane highway checking for speeding. This day I was pre-occupied with having just been to the Veterinarian with a pet where the blood test had originally come in bad, and they had me back for a 2nd blood test. I will typically go between 55 and 60 along that stretch of road, but that day ended up inching my way up to something higher. As soon as I saw the officer I looked down and saw 68 on my speedometer. Started slowing down, and as I passed him he came out and stopped me. (With cat in the back seat in a carrier crying/meowing - not sure whether the officer heard/saw - I didn't say anything about that.

My questions:
  • Is it worthwhile for me to plead not guilty and go in and state the above?
  • There is a section on the ticket where pleading guilty where I can make a statement of explanation. Does that help? - I assume it is better to plead not guilty and show up in person.
  • The ticket says to mail a Not Guilty plea within 48 hours (which I am already late by an additional 24 hours). Is it really too late? Can I submit the plea in person?

thanks much
 

FlyingRon

Senior Member
I'm not sure why you think confessing to a different (and perhaps more serious) offense will get you off a speeding citation. By your own estimation you were likely going the speed he observed you.

Reading the court information, you show up on your appearance date and enter the Not Guilty plea and you'll get a trial date. If you do anything else, you can get it all done at once. A plea of guilty with explanation will not avoid you being found guilty (and incurring the points and having your insurance find out about it), but it may cause the judge to lessen the fine.
 

nkona

Member
I'm not sure why you think confessing to a different (and perhaps more serious) offense will get you off a speeding citation. By your own estimation you were likely going the speed he observed you.
What is the more serious offense that I'd be confessing to? Being preoccupied?... Just want to understand.
I believe I was going just short of 70 - which when I looked it up, being at 70 or above bumps me up to the next category for fine and points. What I saw was 68 - before I started slowing down - which would drop me to the lesser fine/points.
Reading the court information, you show up on your appearance date and enter the Not Guilty plea and you'll get a trial date. If you do anything else, you can get it all done at once. A plea of guilty with explanation will not avoid you being found guilty (and incurring the points and having your insurance find out about it), but it may cause the judge to lessen the fine.
The officer said that if I plead not guilty by sending in the ticket - that I will get a date by mail to appear and plead my case. I thought that was a single appearance?
 

FlyingRon

Senior Member
Call the court and confirm. I think that maybe if you had done so in a timely fashion. If you just show up on your appearance date, you won't get a "not guilty" trial without coming back (I suspect they don't actually have the officer present on those days).

Yes, saying you intentionally drove when you knew you were in a mental state that counters your ability to keep your mind on the road is not a good thing to be admitting to in court.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
There is a return date printed on the traffic ticket. That is the date that the court must receive your plea - doesn't matter whether it's guilty or not guilty. Yes, you can just bring the ticket into the court and hand it to one of the clerks with the appropriate plea section filled out and signed.

You have no valid excuse, but it is probably worth a not guilty plea. You will have to appear in court for a pre-trial conference with the town prosecutor or town police. You may get offered a reduced charge. Based upon your story, you should accept any reduction you are offered. I am not familiar with the Town of Ulster court so I don't know how strict they are with plea deals. How is your driving record?

Oh, and if by some chance you would be dealing with the Trooper who issued you the ticket, his title is "Trooper" not "Officer". State Troopers get really annoyed at being called "officer".
 

xylene

Senior Member
  • Is it worthwhile for me to plead not guilty and go in and state the above? ABSOLUTELY NOT
  • There is a section on the ticket where pleading guilty where I can make a statement of explanation. Does that help? NO. NOT AT ALL. - I assume it is better to plead not guilty and show up in person. YOU ARE CORRECT.
  • The ticket says to mail a Not Guilty plea within 48 hours (which I am already late by an additional 24 hours). Is it really too late? Can I submit the plea in person?
Your best bet is to appear. You may receive an immediate plea bargain.

You should consider getting a lawyer, especially if you have prior violatiosn and points.

You really DO NOT want to simply get it over with.

You need to think about the DMV consequences. You really do not want to be hit with a driver assessment fee.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
FYI, if this is his only traffic infraction within the past 18 months there's no DRA - this is only 4 points.

There's no immediate plea bargain - he has to be scheduled for the pre-trial conference. If he shows up on the return date it's only to enter a plea.

And while I certainly have nothing against attorneys, in traffic courts outside of NYC a defendant can usually obtain as good a result as possible without one.
 

xylene

Senior Member
There's no immediate plea bargain - he has to be scheduled for the pre-trial conference. If he shows up on the return date it's only to enter a plea.
This does not match my experience in upstate town courts as a defendant in speed cases.

And while I certainly have nothing against attorneys, in traffic courts outside of NYC a defendant can usually obtain as good a result as possible without one.
My advice on this was less procedural, but more in regards to the op's emotionally reactive nature and desire to confess, and what could be on the line. I completely agree with you on the likelihood of dramatically enhanced outcomes.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
This does not match my experience in upstate town courts as a defendant in speed cases.
Oh really? And how many times has THAT been? ;):eek:

Granted - my experiences have all been in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess where if a defendant shows up on the return date it's simply treated as an arraignment and a plea is entered necessitating a second appearance if a not guilty is entered.
 

nkona

Member
Thanks for the good information.

My driving record is clean - I've had one ticket in the past, back in the mid 1980's so I assume that isn't looked at it was so long ago (?). The return date on the ticket is March 6. The Trooper said that if I plead not guilty when returning the traffic ticket, the date I get assigned for appearance will probably be a month or two out.

HighwayMan, thanks for the Trooper vs Officer. The ticket has 'officer' even though it also said NY State Police.

Xylene - I think you hit it correctly with "emotionally reactive nature and desire to confess". Based on my belief I was traveling 68 and not 70 mph, what would be a suggestion of how I should approach my defense?
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
My driving record is clean - I've had one ticket in the past, back in the mid 1980's so I assume that isn't looked at it was so long ago (?).
Irrelevant. Only infractions that occurred within 18 months of the one being adjudicated are relevant. Something from that long ago wouldn't even be visible on your record.

The return date on the ticket is March 6. The Trooper said that if I plead not guilty when returning the traffic ticket, the date I get assigned for appearance will probably be a month or two out.
That sounds about right.

HighwayMan, thanks for the Trooper vs Officer. The ticket has 'officer' even though it also said NY State Police.
You were probably given a computer-printed ticket. Whether hand-written or computer-printed it's a standard form and "officer" is used. State Troopers are "police officers" as defined in the Criminal Procedure Law.

Xylene - I think you hit it correctly with "emotionally reactive nature and desire to confess". Based on my belief I was traveling 68 and not 70 mph, what would be a suggestion of how I should approach my defense?
Honestly, you have no defense - and you really don't need one. You have two choices - accept the plea deal offered to you or refuse it and go to trial.

As far as plea deals go, I would expect one of three possibilities.

1 - a reduction in the speed.
2 - a reduction to "disobeying a traffic control device" (which is a very minor infraction)
3 - a reduction to a parking ticket (usually a VTL 1201a)

As I said I don't know that court or how strict the judge is. I will say this - if you are offered #1 you can politely point out to the prosecutor or officer that you have a clean driving record and ASK for #2. The worst that can happen will be that you are told NO. It's also possible that you will be offered #3 outright. If not you can certainly ask for it but that would be a stretch.

If you elect to refuse a deal your case will be put on the trial calendar. Your chances of winning at trial, with or without an attorney, are close to zero. I would urge you to take a plea.

You will not be dealing with the Trooper at your appearance - Troopers do not prosecute their own cases in NY anymore. So either you will deal with a town prosecutor (if Ulster has one) or a town police officer who is assigned to the court to prosecute cases.
 

nkona

Member
Honestly, you have no defense - and you really don't need one. You have two choices - accept the plea deal offered to you or refuse it and go to trial.
Thank you - I'll accept a plea deal if offered to me. If not offered, do I respectfully request one?
As far as plea deals go, I would expect one of three possibilities.

1 - a reduction in the speed.
2 - a reduction to "disobeying a traffic control device" (which is a very minor infraction)
3 - a reduction to a parking ticket (usually a VTL 1201a)

As I said I don't know that court or how strict the judge is. I will say this - if you are offered #1 you can politely point out to the prosecutor or officer that you have a clean driving record and ASK for #2. The worst that can happen will be that you are told NO. It's also possible that you will be offered #3 outright. If not you can certainly ask for it but that would be a stretch.

If you elect to refuse a deal your case will be put on the trial calendar. Your chances of winning at trial, with or without an attorney, are close to zero. I would urge you to take a plea.
If offered #1, I feel comfortable politely stating that I have a clean record and ASKing for #2. I agree with asking for #3 being a stretch, and wouldn't do that.

And in general, what is the process is for the appearance. Do I offer any information. Or do they go right to my saying not guilty to them potentially offering a plea deal.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
Thank you - I'll accept a plea deal if offered to me. If not offered, do I respectfully request one?
You will be offered something in exchange for a guilty plea. I have never seen anyone not get offered something or at least told that due to the nature of their infraction they get no break. A 4-point speed doesn't seem like it would be a "no deal" in any court I've ever been in.

And in general, what is the process is for the appearance. Do I offer any information. Or do they go right to my saying not guilty to them potentially offering a plea deal.
When you meet with whoever it is (prosecutor or officer) you may be asked for a brief explanation. Most of the time people have nothing meaningful to say so it's not usually something that's paid much attention to. Generally you won't be saying much.

Again, much depends upon the court. Some judges in some courts restrict plea bargaining. Most judges leave it to the complete discretion of the prosecutor or negotiating officer, and some of them are tougher than others.

If you'd like and you have time you can show up during a court session prior to yours and get an idea of how it all works. You probably can't sit in on plea bargain discussions but you may have an idea of what's offered if you watch defendants go in front of the judge.
 

nkona

Member
You will be offered something in exchange for a guilty plea.
If you'd like and you have time you can show up during a court session prior to yours and get an idea of how it all works. You probably can't sit in on plea bargain discussions but you may have an idea of what's offered if you watch defendants go in front of the judge.
Ah, ok I understand. I was thinking about going in ahead of time and watch what I can. I'll be sure I do that to get a better understanding of how it works.

I'm still a little fuzzy on the following:
  • I send in my ticket with not guilty
  • when I show up for my court date, I'll be asked how I plead up front - do I still state not guilty, and end up [presumably] pleading guilty in exchange for an offering?

Thanks for all your help HighwayMan.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
If you mail in the ticket with the not guilty plea you will be mailed a notice to appear by the court. It will likely be a notice for a pre-trial conference.

When you arrive on that date (try to get there a little bit earlier than stated in the notice) you'll probably either have to check in with someone or you'll be told to wait somewhere in particular and you will be called to speak to whoever is prosecuting the traffic cases. You will have already entered your plea by mail so it'll be obvious why you're there.

I'm not sure I totally understand what you're asking.
 

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