By Michael Spevack
Hello everybody. This month, I want to talk about the traffic ticket most often written to drivers in New York State and City: 1110(a) disobey a traffic control device. Section 1110(a) of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) provides as follows: “Every person shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device applicable to him [or her] placed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer, subject to the exceptions granted the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle in this title.”
Section 153 of the VTL provides a definition of “traffic control devices.” Section 153 reads, “[a]ll signs, signals, markings or devices not inconsistent with this chapter placed or erected by authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction for the purpose of regulating, warning or guiding traffic.”
Basically, any sign including stop signs, speeding signs or pavement markings, including turn restriction limitations painted on the roadway, are “traffic control devices.”
The DMV points system is found in the New York State Administrative Code title 15, 15 NYCRR 131.3 and provides that a violation of VTL section 1110(a) carries 2 points. Points, as I have written repeatedly, are the enemy of every TLC professional driver. To establish a violation of 1110(a) regarding a sign, justice courts in NYS have propounded the following 5 elements:
- That the traffic control device was in place at the time of the alleged violation
- That the traffic control device was sufficiently visible and legible to an ordinary, observant motorist
- That there was no police officer directing traffic
- A description of the general location of the sign in respect to the intersection which it has been posted to control
- A description of the sign which should include its height above ground, size, shape, color of letters for markings, and any other relevant in that distinguished a sign
It is important to note that 1110(a) applies to pavement markings as well, although there is not much discussion in case law regarding pavement markings.
In New York City, police must prove the elements of an offense of 1110(a) by a preponderance of the evidence (51% likely that a motorist did the offense than not) and outside NYC, in most of the rest of the State of New York, the police must prove their burden beyond a reasonable doubt or (80% or more likely that a motorist committed a violation of 1110(a)).
Please remember to use a lawyer like myself when fighting an 1110(a) ticket in order to protect your due process rights and make the police do their job. Keep points off your license if you possibly can do so.
Thank you for reading my article. Until next month, be well.