Hello everybody… This month, I want to talk about driver license suspension reform which recently became effective in New York State. This new law became effective on June 29, 2021 – and in many instances prohibits DMV from suspending your driver license for nonpayment of fines or suspension termination fees. In general, DMV cannot suspend your driver’s license for failure to pay a traffic ticket fine or surcharge.

Below, I have gathered information from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle website to answer a few common questions regarding the new law.

Q: I am currently suspended for failure to pay a traffic ticket. When will my suspension be lifted?

A: Under the new law, on June 29, 2021, open suspensions for failure to pay traffic tickets will be terminated without the need to pay the $70 suspension termination fee.

Q: Can my driver license be suspended for failure to pay a traffic ticket?

A: Yes. While the recent amendments eliminate most license suspensions for failure to pay traffic tickets, they did not eliminate all types. For example, a driver license will still be suspended if you fail to pay a traffic ticket which resulted in a default conviction from not appearing in court in response to that ticket, and for not paying the fine or surcharge resulting from an oversize/overlength violation in New York City.

Q: Is there any kind of driver license suspension that this law does not apply to?

A: Yes. The change in the law applies to most traffic tickets, but not other matters. Below is a list of common reasons your driver license might be suspended:

  • failure to appear in court
  • failure to maintain auto insurance
  • impaired driving
  • failure to pay child support
  • probationary violations
  • mandatory suspensions resulting from certain convictions
  • permissive suspensions from courts and hearing officers
  • failure to pay state income tax
  • speeding in a work zone
  • failure to pay the statutory “driver responsibility assessment”
  • bad check presented to DMV
  • failure to file crash reports

It is especially important to note for NYC taxicab and FHV drivers that failure to appear in New York City traffic court – otherwise known as the DMV Traffic Violations Bureau or TVB – will still result in a DMV driver’s license suspension. Please contact a qualified DMV attorney like me if you receive a traffic ticket in New York City or anywhere in New York State for that matter.

Q: Do I have to pay my Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA)? Why?

A: Yes, DRAs must still be paid. This law did not change Driver Responsibility Assessments. The DRA is a tax and not a fine. It must be paid to DMV and you cannot get a payment plan for it at the current time.

Regarding payment plans:

Q: When are payment plans going to be available?

A: You will be able to apply for an installment payment plan starting June 29, 2021. These plans will be provided at no charge.

Q: How do I set up an installment/payment plan?

A: It depends on where you received the ticket.

  • For tickets returnable to the NYC traffic violation bureau (TVB): An application process for establishing a payment plan was added to the official NYS DMV website on June 29, 2021.
  • For tickets returnable to all other courts: You need to work directly with the court/municipality where your traffic ticket was issued.

This law is a welcome addition for professional driver’s struggling to make ends meet.  However, please pay attention to your DMV summonses, just as you would previous to the enactment of this law as your job and driver’s license remain in jeopardy if attention is not paid to your tickets, either through accumulation of points or a nonappearance in court.

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