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Tuesday
Jan292013

Andrew Cumo's 2013-2014 Budget--Your Driving Privileges 

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Budget calls for two major changes which will impact all New York State motorists!
The first: restrictions on motorists' ability to plea bargain speeding tickets.  
  • Why? When you pay a court fine for an infraction like "parking on the pavement" that money goes to the municipality where the court is.  Fines from speeding tickets, in contrast, are paid to the State.  
  • What does that mean for you? Less favorable plea offers, meaning more points on your license, higher insurance premiums, and potential mandatory suspension of your driving privileges. 
  • What can you do? Do not speed!!! However, if you are pulled over and the officer advises you that you were speeding, be sure to ask him or her for a supporting deposition!  While most law enforcement officers do a very good job at enforcing traffic laws, they do sometimes make mistakes! Having a copy of your ticket, the officer's supporting deposition, and  your own notes about what exactly occurred can help an attorney determine if your speeding ticket is defensible! Also, if you do not answer your traffic ticket, local courts can issue orders suspending your driving license which will lead to more fees and potential criminal charges (more on that below).
The second: suspension of driving privileges for individuals with $10,000 or more in tax liability.
  • Why? If you drive regularly, you probably know that (unless you live in New York City), your driving "privilege" is pretty much essential to your ability to participate in and contribute to society.  You need to drive for work, for doctors appointments, for school, for grocery shopping, for movies, and pretty much for almost everything.  The thinking is that, considering how important the ability to drive is to most New Yorkers, those who owe significant amounts in taxes will pony up the money if they are denied the privilege of driving.  Any individual who has fallen behind in his or her child support obligation is likely familiar with how compelling the sanction of having a suspended license can be.  
  • What does this mean to you? What you probably know is that not having a license can really hamstring you in fulfilling your day to day obligations and responsibilities.  What you probably did not know is that if you drive while your license is suspended you are committing a crime. In fact, it is a more serious offense to drive with a suspended license than it is to drive having never been a licensed driver at all! Here is how the process works: the DMV sends you a notice indicating that your license has been suspended.  Thereafter, you cannot drive until you correct whatever caused your license to be suspended and paid an additional fee to the DMV to have the suspension removed. It is not unheard of for people to be completely unaware that their licenses are suspended.  
  • Here's what you can do: do not think that because you never answered a parking ticket or heard anything about it for months at a time that there is no issue.  Your license has probably been suspended and you will be facing criminal charges if you are pulled over.  Make sure you answer all traffic tickets.  Make sure you pay all of your court fines and child support obligations (and soon, your taxes too!).  If you are having difficulty meeting these obligations, contact the agencies/individuals you are obligated to and see if there is any sort of agreeable modification that can be reached.  Courts in particular are very willing to work with people who have a hard time paying their fines, but they are very unforgiving when they have simply been blown off.  Make sure that each agency or individual you are obligated to has your correct contact information.  Make sure the DMV has your correct contact information.  If you owe child support and you work out an informal agreement to pay less than what is court ordered, make sure that the other parent acknowledges that informal agreement in writing by signing it.  More importantly, the second that your economic situation changes and you cannot afford your child support obligation, file for a modification! If you do not know how this process works, most attorneys can represent you in this process. As with most things in life, ignoring these obligations can lead to outcomes which are disastrous to you, your career, your finances, and your family.  One final reason it is important not to ignore an issue that may impact your driving privileges: In most situations, the DMV will permit the motorist to apply for a special restricted license to drive to and from work, church and doctor's appointments.  This will help you avoid a situation where you are charged with a crime for driving while your license was suspended.      

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP87cac4e2ceed473cbd9060e51c59e06b.html

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