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5 Common Traffic Violations in New York

Driving is a privilege that assumes many responsibilities for care from those on the road. In today’s blog, we discuss five common traffic violations in New York and the relevant penalties for infractions, from fines to potential jail time to penalty points.

5 Common Traffic Violations in New York


Depending on the severity of the infraction, speeding offenders will face fines, points on their license, and possible jail time. Penalties will be determined by how much above the speed limit the defendant was driving:

  • Up to 10 mph over the limit – $45-$150 in fines; possible prison up to 15 days; 3 penalty points
  • 10 mph to 30 mph over – $90-$300 in fines; up to 30 days in jail; 4-6 points
  • More than 30 mph over – $180-$600 in fines; up to 30 days in jail; 8-11 points

Note that fines will increase if an individual has been convicted of more than one speed violation within 18 months, and a license is revoked for 3 convictions in 18 months. Fines may also vary for speeding in a school zone or restricted highway and are doubled in work zones. Be aware that posted speed limits in work zones must be observed regardless of whether construction activities are occurring at the time.

Further, in addition to the fines and penalties incurred, an individual may also have to pay a state surcharge and complete a Driver Responsibility Assessment if they receive 6 or more points on their driver record over an 18-month period.

Disobeying Traffic Control Devices

A person charged with violations for disobeying generic traffic devices may face a penalty of 2 points Disobeying specific traffic devices, though, (a one-way sign or stop sign), can be penalized by more than 2 points.

If an individual passes through a stop sign without stopping, the moving violation can result in 3 points on their driver’s license. Repeated infractions, such as if a person runs a stop sign more than once within an 18-month period, will result in double the fine and potentially up to 45 days in jail for a second offense and 90 days in jail for a third offense. Be aware that even a first offense could lead to 15 days of imprisonment.

Those who accumulate 11 or more points in an 18-month period could also have their driver’s license revoked. As such, the person’s driving record will no longer be a clean driving record, so they could be unable to get jobs that require a perfect driving history and face consequences from their car insurance provider.

No License

Every driver who operates a motor vehicle must have a driver’s license to drive on a New York highway. Individuals guilty of unlicensed driving (the driver was never issued a valid license) could incur a $75-$300 fine and/or up to 15 days in jail. Those who are licensed drivers but do not have their license in immediate possession while driving can be arrested for driving without a license. There are exceptions, however, for those operating farming vehicles, emergency response vehicles, and some military vehicles.

A person who operates a vehicle while on a suspended or revoked license in New York is further guilty of “aggravated unlicensed operation” of a motor vehicle (AUO) and can face fines, jail time, and vehicle loss. A first offense driving while suspended is a third-degree AUO punishable by $200-$500 in fines and/or up to 30 days in jail. A second-degree AUO includes violators who were suspended for a DWI, DWI test refusal, or for having 3 failure-to-appear suspensions. Second-degree AUO carries a fine of $500-$1,000 and 7-180 days in jail.

Using a Cell Phone While Driving

New York prohibits the use of mobile devices while driving, and a violation of these laws results in fines and points on an individual’s driver’s license. Illegal activity under this statute includes holding an electronic device and:

  • composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or webpages;
  • viewing, taking, or transmitting images;
  • playing games.

Those charged with a violation of this law could face a fine of up to $200 for the first offense and 5 driver penalty points. Note that exceptions to the law are when:

  • the driver uses a hands-free mobile telephone, which allows the user to communicate without the use of either hand (e.g. device is affixed to a vehicle surface);
  • the purpose of the phone call is to communicate an emergency to a police or fire department, a hospital or physician's office, or an ambulance;
  • operating an authorized emergency vehicle in the performance of official duties.


The presumption that a following driver is responsible for a rear-end collision due to their failure to maintain a safe distance behind other automobiles by following too closely or “tailgating” is another common traffic violation.

This is a vague and subjective standard, though, that makes it challenging for drivers to conform to the law’s requirements. As a result, a lawyer might be most helpful in these kinds of traffic cases depending on the severity of the case.

Drivers convicted of tailgating in New York can be fined up to $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $450 for a third offense. Drivers will also incur 4 points on their license. It is also likely that a conviction or guilty plea will obligate a driver to pay a state surcharge of either $88 or $93, depending on where they were ticketed.

Facing Traffic Violation Charges?

If you are facing any traffic-related charges, speak with an experienced lawyer for legal guidance. Depending on the severity of the consequences, a lawyer will be very helpful to arguing against or mitigating your charges. Whether you have been accused of speeding or using a cell phone while driving in New York, seek legal representation immediately.

Contact our lawyers at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC for a free consultation today!