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Tower Grove Lawyer
Tower Grove Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 606
Experience:  Experienced attorney in traffic and driving issues
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I was ticketed for "FLD DUE CARE OF EMERG VEH STOPPED OR STANDING"

Customer Question

I was ticketed for "FLD DUE CARE OF EMERG VEH STOPPED OR STANDING" in Sullivan County, New York on 17W. The officer also issued a supporting deposition that stated, "Driver failed to move over. Entire left lane open." Because the officer issued that deposition, I cannot say that I was unable to change lanes. I did, however, slow down to below the speed limit because that's common sense. I was just unaware of the law because I don't own a car and never drive ever since I moved to NYC almost two years ago. I was borrowing my friend's car for a weekend getaway, so a suspended license or points will not really effect me.

However, since I JUST finished grad school last month and don't have a job, the fine does worry me. If I want to request a lesser fine, should I plead guilty but say that I slowed down to below the speed limit? I don't want to go back to Sullivan County ever again so I don't really want to plead not guilty and have to go to court.

I'm not sure how to best tackle this problem. All of the information online is not as relevant to my case since I did receive a supporting deposition that clearly stated that the entire left lane was open.

Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Tower Grove Lawyer replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I will do my best to answer your question. Please note that this does not constitute legal advice as I do not know all the specific facts of your situation. We have not created an attorney-client relationship simply through this communication. Also, please be aware that none of these communications are confidential and are located on a public web site.

First, you still have the option of challenging the police officer's deposition if it is untrue. The police officer's word is not final and, if you disagree with the deposition, you should tell that to the judge. The judge would compare your story with the police officer's story and determine who is telling the truth. Unfortunately, judges tend to believe police officers more often than the believe drivers.

It's usually far easier to negotiate a reduction in points than a reduction in the fine. Many municipalities just want the money and don't really care about the points that are issued.

If your goal is to reduce the fine AND avoid a court appearance, I would recommend the following course of action:

Contacting the District Attorney's office and see if they will agree to amend or reduce the ticket to a lesser offense. Often, DAs will agree to amend or reduce the ticket if you agree to plead guilty in order to avoid the expense and hassle of a trial. You can tell the D.A. that you are OK with points on your license but want the fine reduced. Again, this is the opposite of what most drivers want, but the D.A. should work with you if you agree to plead guilty.

If the goal is to also avoid a court appearance, I would recommend calling the D.A. as soon as possible. You can speak to the D.A. right before your court appearance but my clients are usually more comfortable when a deal is worked out in advance. You should note, however, that some judges will require a person to physically appear in court unless they have an attorney.

Another option (and the option that is most likely to reduce your overall fine) is to hire a local attorney to appear in court on your behalf. This usually does not cost more than a couple hundred dollars and will avoid a court appearance (at least at the initial hearing). If you are going to hire an attorney, I would do so soon. Calling an attorney the day before the hearing reduces the attorney's chance of working on a favorable deal. The problem with this, of course, is that you have to pay an attorney to represent you, although it will likely mean you do not have to appear in court.

I would NOT recommend pleading guilty and requesting a lesser fine on the basis that you slowed down to below the speed limit. That takes all of the control out of your hands and, in all likelihood, the fine will not be reduced because you 1) pleaded guilty and 2) admitted that you did not move over.

Please let me know if I can clarify any of my remarks.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

What is the best way to contact the DA to discuss this. Say, "Can you amend or reduce my ticket to a lesser offense?" Should I say that I did slow down but not switch lanes, which is still admitting guilt?


 


And if I decide to hire a lawyer, won't it cost about the same as just paying the fine? If I plead guilty to this, will I have to go to court, or can I just pay the fine and move on?

Expert:  Tower Grove Lawyer replied 1 year ago.
I would call the D.A.'s office and ask to speak to someone regarding your ticket. I would tell them exactly what you wrote -- "Can you amend or reduce my ticket to a lesser offense?" You will be required to plead guilty as part of any offer the D.A. makes. I would not admit any fault to the D.A. unless you are asked first.

Hiring a lawyer will probably costs the same as just paying the fine, but I listed that option because some people are not comfortable negotiating on their own.

As for whether you will have to go to court, you will need to refer to the ticket you received. Many of these tickets do NOT require a court appearance if you plead guilty and pay the fine. If the ticket does not say whether or not you can plead guilty to avoid a court appearance, I would recommend calling the court to find out if you can do so.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I just called the DA and they said they don't handle these types of tickets. They said to call the court. Would I still go about this matter the same way as I would if I were speaking to the DA?


 


Just to clarify, my goals are:


1. Not go to court because I don't have a car, and would like to avoid driving as much as possible. I also have a small child and would need to bring him to court too or pay more money for a sitter in which we don't have one at the moment. Also, less hassle is better.


 


2. Reduce the fine.


 


The wording on the ticket says (if pleading guilty): "I have been charged with the violation as specified on the other side of this ticket. I acknowledge receipt of the warning printed in bold type on the the other side of this ticket, and I waive arraignment of open court and the aid of an Attorney. I plead GUILTY to the offense as charged and request that this charge be disposed of and a fine or penalty fixed by the court."


 


That means no court if I plead guilty, correct?

Expert:  Tower Grove Lawyer replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I would speak to the court the same way. You have nothing to lose by trying to work out a deal. Any deal you can work out will be better than simply pleading guilty and paying the fine.

I agree with your interpretation of the wording on the ticket. If you sign the ticket and return it with the guilty plea, you will be sent a bill for the fine amount and will not need to appear in court.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

This is more for the public, but I called the court and the woman I spoke with said that I if I want to amend or reduce my ticket to a lesser fine, then I have to mail in my ticket and plead "not guilty." Afterwards, I will be given a court date where I can make my claim. They will also take into consideration my driving record. So if you have a good driving record, then the expert's advice is great. He's absolutely right when he says, "Any deal you can work out will be better than simply pleading guilty and paying the fine."


 


After making my claim, the court will offer me a deal. If I choose to accept the deal, I will not have to appear in court and may possibly be able to reduce my fine as well.


 


I have hope since this is my first ticket ever in 17 years of driving. Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX me luck!

Expert:  Tower Grove Lawyer replied 1 year ago.
Yes, a good driving record makes it much, MUCH easier to negotiate.

Good luck to you!
Tower Grove Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 606
Experience: Experienced attorney in traffic and driving issues
Tower Grove Lawyer and 3 other Traffic Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I finally received a response from the court – all charges dismissed because the officer didn't have a supporting deposition. Thanks so much!!

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Expert:  Tower Grove Lawyer replied 1 year ago.
Wow, that's great to hear! Congratulations!

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