In mid-March of this year, in response to the pandemic, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suddenly shut their doors and closed to the public. This of course included all traffic ticket hearings within the City of New York, which numbered in the thousands each day. Like other attorneys, I thought the DMV would conduct a deep cleaning of their offices (which was sorely needed) and reopen for business two weeks later.
Well, I was off by about four months. The DMV reopened and hearings commenced again beginning in late July. And traffic hearings look a lot different than they did pre-Covid.
First of all, the calendars have been reduced by at least 50 percent. It now takes close to a year to get a hearing date. Of course, there is no downside for the motorist with the delay. Until the hearing, the ticket remains open and has no impact upon one’s driving record or insurance premiums.
Secondly, there are no walk-ins allowed at DMV for either hearings or any other business. You must have an appointment to gain entry to any DMV office. The motorist is required to wait outside the building until his designated hearing time and then he will be escorted to the hearing room by a DMV staff member. There is no milling around the hallways.
Thirdly, the police officers no longer appear in person at the hearings. They testify by speaker phone from wherever they are. Thus, it has become much less likely for the officer to fail “to appear” which would lead to dismissal of the ticket. This virtual appearance also makes it much harder for the motorist or his attorney to effectively cross-examine the witness as there is no body language for the Judge to assess and you cannot tell if the officer is reading off his notes or ticket. The officer is required to fax the court a copy of his ticket and relevant memo book entries which are turned over to the motorist to review.
Finally, of course, all persons must wear masks inside the building. And social distancing is maintained between all parties by plexiglass partitions and benches separating the motorist from the Judge and clerk. Like so many other things, this is now the new normal in my life as a traffic court attorney.
Have you received a moving violation, seat belt ticket, any other traffic infraction in Westchester County or the Bronx? Call traffic attorney Eli Moore at (914) 914-523-5552 for a free consultation, Learn more about Eli at EliMooreTrafficAttorney.com.