Many traveling by car in upstate New York come across countless scenic suburbs, towns and hamlets when they leave the tollways and highways. Unfortunately, it seems that some local officials see these visitors as an opportunity for issuing a lot of moving violations. This suspicion was confirmed when the state comptroller’s office issued a newsworthy list of 50 towns and village courts that collected the most money from traffic tickets and other minor violations.
Worst towns for tickets
Each town and village court must report their annual revenue to the comptroller’s office. In 2017, these towns collected $171 million from drivers. The top 5 are:
- Town of Amherst in Erie County for $3,423,519
- Town of Wallkill in Orange County for $3,317,544
- Town of Tonawanda in Erie County for $2,103,768
- Town of Colonie in Albany County for $2,067,641
- Town of Newburgh in Orange County for $1,714,499
You can fight city hall
Most are annoyed but simply pay the ticket, but this can be a mistake. Admitting to violating the law by paying the ticket is an admission of guilt. This can come back to haunt drivers if they are subsequently cited – penalties for moving violations can mean points on your license. Those who want to keep a clean driving record or lowering their points and penalties do have options.
- Dispute the officer’s claim: Unsafe driving often requires an officer’s opinion, which can be challenged.
- Dispute the evidence: The officer must witness the ticketed action.
- Mistake of fact: This is an honest mistake where lane markers did not clearly identify lanes or tree branches cover a traffic sign.
- Justify your actions: This can include speeding to avoid a distracted driver or some other immediate danger.
It is best to weigh options
Not all tickets are worth fighting, but sometimes it is worth the time, expense and effort. It can also seem right to take on townships who seem to use drivers as personal ATMs to subsidize their taxes, even if it means some drivers end up losing their license and livelihood because of trivial stops. However, working with an attorney with experience handling traffic violations can help drivers get the best possible outcome.