Many parts of New York are a simple drive across the border for Vermonters. Drivers from the Green Mountain State should be cautious while in New York; the Empire State is known as one of the worst to get a traffic ticket in. Vermont drivers facing a New York traffic ticket might be tempted to just pay the ticket, rather than deal with the hassle of trying to fight the charges. But this would be a serious mistake. New York and Vermont share driver information—including details of traffic convictions—through an interstate agreement called the Driver’s License Compact. As such, paying a ticket means having to deal with a host of potential consequences far greater than most realize.
Here’s why Vermont drivers should think twice about paying a NY ticket (and what they should do instead).
NY Points Matter to VT Drivers
Despite being licensed in another state, Vermont drivers need to be aware of the points associated with a NY traffic violation. Just like in Vermont, paying a NY traffic ticket means admitting guilt and accepting points. The good news is that New York points will not appear on a VT driving record. Likewise, Vermont does not add points for most out-of-state violations.
However, it would be foolish to think that the New York’s point system doesn’t affect Vermont drivers. The New York State DMV will still keep track of the point value of any traffic convictions. Drivers who are convicted of violations worth six points or more under NY’s system will be assessed additional fines (see below). A conviction for 11 or more points received within an 18 month time period will result in a suspension of driving privileges in New York.
Fines Are Just the Beginning
Unlike in some parts of the country, the fine associated with a NY traffic ticket is not the final cost. Firstly, every traffic ticket comes with a mandatory state surcharge that costs either $88 or $93, depending on where it was issued. Secondly, if the driver is convicted of one or more tickets totaling at least six points, he/she will be required to pay an additional fee called the Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA). The cost of a DRA starts at $300, and increases by $75 with each point over six.
For example, the fine for driving 21 mph over the limit in NY costs $300. This one ticket alone is worth six points, meaning the driver is almost guaranteed to be charged a $300 DRA. When combined with the mandatory surcharge, the total cost of this one ticket is $693! Similarly, a driver who receives two tickets within 18 months of each other for running a red light ($225, three points) and texting while driving ($150, five points) could end up shelling out over $1,000.
Your VT Driving Record Will Be Affected
When New York convicts a Vermont driver of a traffic violation—whether because the driver paid the ticket or tried to fight the ticket and lost—it sends notice of the conviction to Vermont. Vermont then records the violation on the driver’s record. A blemished driving record can affect many aspects of a person’s life, depending the violation(s). For example, it can affect one’s job or job prospects (especially if one has a CDL license or driving is part of the person’s responsibilities). A significant number of traffic infractions or several serious infractions (i.e. reckless driving or DWI) can also affect future criminal sentencing.
Your Vermont Insurance Rates Will be Affected
Paying a New York traffic ticket also means accepting a likely increase in auto insurance premiums. Since the conviction from paying the ticket will appear on one’s driving record, there is no way to hide it from one’s auto insurer. Insurance companies pull customer driving records as often as possible and update rates whenever new convictions appear. One study found that a single speeding ticket can increase Vermont insurance premiums by as much 19 percent.
It’s not just auto insurance rates that can be affected. Having too many tickets on one’s record, or even just one serious conviction can also impact life insurance premiums. The reason? Bad driving, in the mind of insurance companies, means risky behavior. And more risk equals higher premiums.
You Could Lose Your Driver’s License
Although Vermont will not apply points for out-of-state tickets, those tickets can still lead to a suspended license in Vermont. For example, if New York issues a suspension of driving privileges against a VT driver, the Vermont DMV can issue a suspension of the license in kind. This can happen if a driver is convicted of driving 41 mph over the limit (an 11-point violation), drunk driving, or driving without auto insurance.
Another way a Vermont driver could lose their license over a New York traffic ticket: refuse to respond to or pay it. Drivers who fail to respond to or pay a New York traffic ticket can expect NY to suspend their right to drive in the state—even if they are licensed in Vermont or elsewhere. Like all other reasons for a suspension, it will appear on one’s driving record and can result in Vermont suspending the license in kind.
What to Do About a NY Traffic Ticket
It’s a bad idea to pay a New York traffic ticket, but it’s equally as bad to not pay it. The ideal solution, then, is to hire a qualified attorney to fight the ticket. A skilled attorney can develop a strategy to get the ticket dismissed or negotiate it down to a lesser charge that will have little or no impact on one’s driving record. As a plus, depending on the case, a driver who hires an attorney may not have to return to New York to fight the ticket. In most cases, New York allows licensed attorneys to appear in court in lieu of the driver, even if the driver is from another state. This means saving the time involved in a trip to court.
Adam Rosenblum, Esq. is the founder of TrafficTickets.com, a traffic ticket law firm that practices traffic ticket and criminal law in both New York and New Jersey.