Hello everybody, this month I want to talk about the impact that the new laws relating to the non-suspension of your DMV license for non-payment of DMV ticket fines have on professional drivers who are on the road a great deal each year, and are therefore subject to receiving many DMV tickets.

Do I need to care about getting tickets from NYPD anymore since DMV can’t suspend my NYS driver’s license or privilege to drive in NYS for failing to pay any fines assessed by the court for a guilty verdict or even if I plead guilty?

The answer is YES!

(Remember out of state licensees are impacted by NY DMV tickets, so even if your driver’s license is from NJ or Conn. you must pay attention to your NY DMV tickets.)

The fine for a DMV ticket has never been the central issue for drivers in NYS, especially professional taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers. It is the points that really impact drivers. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a traffic ticket, even if the fine is ZERO DOLLARS, you face many potential negative penalties.

Some of these penalties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Loss of your NYS driving license or privilege for accruing 11 or more points in any 18-month period
  2. Loss of your NYS driving license or privilege for violating a mandatory penalty such as guilty findings for 3 speeding tickets issued within 18 months of each other or 2 work zone ticket violations or probationary license violations, etc.
  3. Loss of your NYS driving license or privilege because a traffic violations bureau judge (in NYC the traffic court is called the traffic violations bureau) decides to impose a suspension or revocation of your license for a guilty verdict for any violation. Traffic court judges may take license action against you for violating any single traffic rule, such as going through a red light or speeding, even if you have no other points (this one does not involve points so much as a tough judge acting on his or her own).
  4. Problems with TLC under the critical driver program TLC can use DMV points accrued to impose TLC penalties against you and can take your TLC operator’s license away (your hack or FHV license) for having too many DMV points.
  5. Increased auto insurance costs.
  6. Your garage or leasing agent may refuse to do business with you because you are an insurance risk for having too many DMV points.
  7. Other legal penalties, such as immigration issues or the inability to apply for some government jobs, like working for the MTA or the police or sanitation dept.
  8. Having to pay the drivers responsibility assessment to DMV, which is a tax and must be paid in full. This obligation has not been altered by the new law regarding no license suspension for non-payment of DMV fines.

In addition to the above, your obligation to pay a fine assessed by a judge or your guilty plea remains your civil liability – meaning that you still owe the fine.

Yes, you can pay it off in installments. Yes, there is a provision in the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) in NYS now that allows a judge to eliminate a fine for hardship (but that is unlikely given that payment plans are available). Yes, DMV can no longer suspend your driver’s license at DMV for non-payment of a fine.

However, you owe the underlying fine to the State of New York.

From a practical standpoint, what does that mean? Your credit rating can be negatively affected if you don’t meet your obligations to DMV. If you default on your payment plan or simply decide not to pay, you have defaulted on a legitimate debt, just like not paying a credit card bill.

Further, under VTL section 227, the DMV is entitled to sue you to collect the debt you owe for nonpayment of fines. Moreover, there is a provision in 227 of the VTL that allows DMV to obtain a judgment against you for unpaid tickets. This means that DMV can put a lien on your house or car or your bank account – which will obviously negatively affect your credit.

Can you get of paying my unpaid fines to DMV by going bankrupt under chapter 7 of the US Bankruptcy Code? The answer is no. Government fines are not dischargeable in bankruptcy under chapter 7. You owe them no matter what and bankruptcy will not eliminate your obligation to pay.

Do you need a competent DMV lawyer in NYC and NYS to fight your tickets? The answer is still yes. Every TLC licensed driver should have a relationship with a DMV and TLC attorney to protect their rights and their job.

As you can see, the new law is not a miracle cure or an excuse to drive with abandon on city streets. It is merely an accommodation and realization by the powers that be about something that professional TLC drivers and their lawyers and representatives have always known: Fines are expensive and hit drivers hard in the wallet.

It is nice to have payment plans; that’s a welcome development. Do not be caught off guard and think that you do not have to pay attention to your DMV ticket anymore.

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