speeding ticket

Restriction on plea bargaining for tickets

Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, the current practice of permitting drivers arrested for speeding within the villages and towns to lower a plea to parking violation will be curtailed.

The proposal started leaders from Amherst way down Elma to worry as they have been relying on the revenue for their coffers. Through this new proposal, hundreds to millions of dollars are lost at the area town courts through this charge system reduction.

Supervisor of Amherst Town, Barry Weinstein said that he is hoping that the legislators would realize its implication to the state coffer’s collection.

It has always been the practice for towns and villages all over the state to depend on the funds collected through this practice.

Drivers caught speeding is issued tickets where they will have to appear in traffic courts of the town or villages.  If the driver’s record does not shown any dangerous traffic violation and the speeding was not so excessive, as it is often the case; he/she is allowed to plead to a lesser, nonmoving violation, such as a parking violation or anything less. They are also often penalized to attend a traffic school.

This kind of arrangement suits both motorist and traffic officials. It’s an arrangement that makes both motorists and towns happy. Drivers are not given points on their license which will raise their insurance premiums.

Revenue from the tickets is supporting the budget of many towns and villages.

However, the governor wants to keep tickets remain speeding tickets for violations committed with all money going straight to the coffers of the state. This was the kind of budgeting the governor wants.

In his proposal to eliminate the practice, the governor last week mentioned that the state is losing about $58 million from the current practice of reducing charges.

He added that the practice is a great risk as non-moving violations are not included on records of repeat offenders.

According to the office of the governor, parking violations in 2011made 393,000 convictions with around 374,000 of these numbers were pleas lowered from something higher.

Records showed that 77,000 were pleas that lowered speeding tickets to non-moving violations;  with about 20,000 violations were for driving 20 mph over the speed limit.

To limit the practice, the governor is proposing a series of new rules: First, any motorist who is apprehended driving more than 20 mph above the speed limit is made to face a violation with a  point mandatory bearing.

In addition, Governor Cuomo wants an extra $80 surcharge to any kind of parking violations that motorists were allowed to make a lower plea from a speeding ticket.

The governor also mandated a minimum $50 fine for a first offense of motorist caught using a cellphone or texting while driving.

According to spokesman for the governor’s budget division, Morris Peters believes that the proposal to curtail bargaining plea will in no way stop the practice while prosecutors of the town court still have the discretion of pleading down cases.

Local officials of the municipality still allow a plea offer but they can still collect the fine. As the fine is unchanged, the fine is not changed, Peters continued.

The governor’s officials clarified that the $80 surcharge from nonmoving violations goes to the state funds while the new $50 penalty will be for the town’s funds where violations occurred.

Meanwhile the state is on its way to recoup the $58 million it has been losing out through the plea bargains. The state expects to reap about $16 million for the coming fiscal year and $25 million in the years thereafter from the newly proposed rules and surcharge.

But local officials are expressing concerns on the impact to the bill to their town and village coffers.

Weinstein said that Amherst was able to collect in 2011, the amount of $1.6 million from its town court system with the large portion of the collection coming from the reduced speeding violations. He would like to keep all revenues in town.

Dennis M. Powers, Supervisor of the town, is against the proposal. He said that Elma had a difficult time staying within the 2 % local tax cap required by the state if the plea bargaining is curtailed.

More than 11.5 % of Elma’s general fund is derived from its town court that earned $280,000 from handling 2011’s speeding tickets.

Elma town practices lower pleas but it is not abused. Records are kept for any vehicle caught speeding in Elma, even if it is changed in s reduced plea.

The officials in Albany officials are still scrutinizing are skeptical about its motive.

Executive director of the New York State Conference of Mayors, Peter Baynes said his organization is looking at the bill but if it truly raises a revenue for the state that is covered in c traffic safety clothes.

Executive director of the Association of Towns, Gerry Geist said it is not only a matter of how the new rule can limit a plea bargaining. He was wondering if it also includes point-bearing violations and whether the fines go to the town.

By restricting plea bargaining, a backlog will be created in town courts as most drivers would opt to bring the case to court rather than pay the fine.

Carl Morgan, who is Hamburg’s town prosecutor, said that the new rule is an additional imposition to the town. When more motorists decide to contest the fine, it will be an additional expense in local courts as there are usually around 150 people lining up in traffic court every Monday. Probably, the state does not anticipate this kind of problem to crop up, he concluded.

If you have received a traffic ticket, please contact an experienced speeding ticket lawyers. Protect your right to drive legally

Source: Buffalo News Com

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