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Traffic Violations

A motorist who receives a moving violation in New York City and some other communities in New York State that is not a misdemeanor will not be going to court. Instead, the motorist answers the ticket in the Traffic Violations Bureau that is part of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

The TVB is an administrative agency. It is not a court. The purpose of the bureau was to relieve the congestion that traffic violations caused when they were heard in the court system. By moving most traffic ticket violations to the TVB, court calendars were supposed to become lighter, so judges could focus their attention on criminal cases and traffic misdemeanors such as drinking and driving charges.

There are some traffic charges that might cause confusion as far as whether they are heard in court or in the TVB. For example, leaving your home without your wallet could lead to a traffic ticket for driving without a license which is a violation heard in the TVB. Driving with a suspended or a revoked license is a misdemeanor that is heard in a regular court proceeding.

An administrative law judge hears cases in the TVB. Judges in the TVB have the power to impose fines and suspend or revoke a motorist's license. Administrative law judges do not have the power to impose a jail sentence or place someone on probation. Such powers are reserved to judges presiding over cases in the criminal courts.

Another difference between the TVB and the courts is that hearings held in the TVB do not use prosecutors. The police officer who issued the ticket testifies in support of the charges. The motorist has the opportunity to testify and present witnesses.

Moving violations can add points to your driving record and lead to a suspended license. Although this post offers information about traffic violations, it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you need legal advice about improper passing, failing to yield, speeding or a red light violation, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney.

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