New York City’s “Dusk and Darkness” Campaign Means More Traffic Enforcement Fines
For several years now, new regulations, laws, and fines have been implemented under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program. Intended to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities, the program has resulted in new street designs, public education safety campaigns, and a host of new, higher fines for traffic violations. For private and commercial drivers, the penalties have become substantial. As of 2016 alone, NYC has collected almost $2 billion in fines and fees.
Starting in 2016, Vision Zero stepped up traffic enforcement in the fall and winter months under its “Dusk and Darkness” campaign. Based on seasonal data analysis, pedestrian injuries demonstrably increase during the period of reduced daylight hours. With a starting budget of $1.5 million dollars, the city initiated a public safety campaign to educate both drivers and pedestrians about the increased danger at certain times of year.
In addition to the education campaign, police and traffic enforcement officers across the city have been instructed to step up ticketing for a variety traffic enforcement issues. For drivers who receive violations, the reasons can be confusing and often arbitrary.
Increased enforcement will be particularly focused on the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. hours--prime commuting time. The “Dusk and Darkness” campaign emphasizes attention on speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and distracted driving, which includes cell phone use. While speeding may be a less debatable violation, issuance of failure to yield and distracted driving violations are left to the discretion of the police or traffic enforcement officer. Contesting these types of violations can be difficult. A New York City traffic attorney can provide guidance on the best way to proceed in these cases.
Cell Phones Are Targeted--Whether You’re Talking On Them or Not
Drivers can be unaware that certain activities violate regulations and laws. For instance, cell phone use goes beyond actually talking on the phone while driving. According to New York City’s Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225(c) & (d), all manner of electronic devices---such as tablets, laptops,cell phones and, problematically, hand-held GPS devices--are banned from use by the driver while the vehicle is motion.
Also, while not necessarily a violation we have experienced drivers ticketed for having a cell phone in view on a passenger seat or in close proximity to the driver. Obviously, the arbitrary nature of the enforcement of this violation can result in heavy fines through random, unfair decisions by enforcement personnel.
Failure to Yield Violations Can Be Debatable
Under New York City’s Right of Way Law Section 19-190 of the NYC Administrative Code or Local Law 29) , if a driver fails to yield to someone in the crosswalk with the right of way, they can be fined and even arrested. Part of the city’s data analysis indicated that almost half of pedestrian injuries and fatalities during the fall and winter months occurred when drivers attempted to make turns. As a result, more enforcement of failure to yield has become a cornerstone of the “Dusk and Darkness” program. Again, the determination of whether someone has failed to yield is left to the discretion of traffic enforcement personnel in instances where no injury has occurred and can be debatable.
Fines, Penalties, and More
The fines for these violations can be substantial and add up quickly. Fines and fees for violating the distracted driving laws like cell phone use include 5 points immediately on a license and a potential fine up to $200. The fines can increase up to $450 for subsequent violations with 5 points penalty is imposed for each individual violation. Fees are automatic and include an $88 surcharge per violation and additional assessment fees for excessive points.
For failure to yield violations, the fine is up to $100 if no injury occurs and up to $250 if an injury does occur. Technically, an immediate arrest with the potential for up to 30 days in jail can also happen.
Tickets can have ramifications long after a fine is paid. Points on a license are cumulative over an 18-month period, which may lead to more fees and penalties, license suspension or revocation. While the cost of fines and fees are obvious initial expenses, tickets can cause additional long-term problems with insurance and license points. In addition, insurance companies can, and do, increase premiums if a driver accumulates violations on their record.
Fighting a Ticket in NYC With A New York City Attorney
New York traffic attorneys can help navigate the NYC court system concerning traffic citations. In addition to complicated regulations and laws, the procedures of the court system can be equally confusing. Traffic lawyers that specialize in the New York City and State court systems can be an invaluable advocate to help reduce fines, points, or even have tickets dismissed.
In certain situations, violations of traffic regulations can be contested with a “rebuttable defense,” meaning gray areas do exist. A New York traffic attorney can advise you what those areas are and help you make the best decision on how to proceed.
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With our 60 years of combined experience working with the New York Legal System and Most NY Traffic Courts, our team of local traffic lawyers will defend your tickets saving you money and time. We will aggressively contest your violations and seek to reduce your sentence, lower fines, and avoid getting points in order to prevent suspension or revocation of your license as well as increased insurance premiums