Hello everybody… This month, I want to talk about New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law (VTL) § 226, which provides the basic procedure for NYPD summonses to be answered and notice provided by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for summonses or tickets issued by police in New York City.

Section 226 1-a provides that the commissioner of the DMV (means in all practical terms that the employees of the DMV) must notify any motorist who receives a summons by first class US Mail at their last address on file with DMV, within one week of when the ticket must be answered.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep your address current with DMV (and TLC) to ensure receipt of important notices. Read the summons and make sure the address listed on the ticket matches where you actually get your mail. If not, update your address with DMV and be sure to tell your DMV lawyer your address needs updating.

For all practical purposes, NYPD traffic tickets state that the motorist must answer the ticket within 15 days of receipt of the ticket or summons, although in actuality a motorist in NYC has more time to answer than 15 days… it’s more like 40 days.  However, it is generally a good idea to enter a plea of NOT guilty as soon as possible after you receive a NYC traffic ticket from NYPD, etc.

Section 226 still requires DMV to send a notice to a driver who receives a traffic ticket, such that a ticketed driver must get a letter from the DMV “no later than one week prior to [the] return date.” That often leads to confusion with clients who hire me to fight their traffic tickets. I may plead NOT guilty for my client and obtain a date far in the future for the initial hearing, immediately upon being hired. However, DMV will have already mailed out a letter to a summonsed motorist advising him or her of the necessity to enter a plea by mail or the computer. Clients who received NYC traffic tickets often wonder why DMV “snail mails” letters to them so close to a hearing date. The reason is VTL § 226.

Always tell a qualified DMV lawyer who you work with (I offer a free initial consultation and reasonable fees for TLC drivers) that you received a DMV notice and check in as instructed by your attorney so that you and your attorney are up to date on when your court appearance is truly scheduled. The availability to reschedule a ticket online via dmv.ny.gov website makes section 226 of the VTL a bit outdated, but it is still good, in my opinion, that DMV is required to use the US mail to notify motorists of their court dates within a week of the court date.

Thank you for reading this article. Until next month, be well.

Article by Michael Spevack

A 1992 graduate of NYU School of Law, Michael Spevack has been a lawyer in good standing in New York State since 1993. He has been helping NYC for-hire vehicle drivers since 1995, when he opened his own law firm. Mr. Spevack can be reached at 212.754.1011; he also welcomes visitors at his office: 1204 44th Avenue Long Island City NY 11101.

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