Any traffic ticket comes with what attorneys call a “respond date” — a deadline by which the motorist must plead guilty or not guilty.
I can’t tell you how many clients have asked me over and over, each time with more and more anxiety, “Have you answered my ticket yet? The 15 days are almost up.”
And who can blame them for this? It says it right there on the ticket: “You must answer this ticket within 15 days of the date of offense.”
So, what happens on the dreaded Day 16?
Much like a doomsday cult predicting the end of the world on a precise date, when Day 16 finally comes, you will be pleasantly surprised to find your license is in the same condition it was on Day 15 and before.
That does not mean that you have an unlimited amount of time to answer a ticket. So how much time does the New York City motorist have? It’s a good question, but unfortunately one without a precise answer.
By the book, a ticket becomes a “late answer” 30 days after it enters the TVB system. Note that this does not occur on the date of the offense. The summons must go from the police officer’s hand to the world of the TVB. First, the cop must give the summons to his or her sergeant; the sergeant then sends it up the chain of command until it is entered into the system by a clerk in Albany. This process takes at least a few days, and often longer. Until the ticket has entered the system, it cannot be found online, because, to the TVB, it doesn’t exist yet. (And there are rare occasions in which a ticket is never entered into the system at all.)
A late answer does not mean the motorist is suspended. But it might mean that you have to go to court to schedule a date, or that scheduling the case might be classified as a “motorist reschedule” as opposed to a “not guilty” plea, which may be held against you if you try to reschedule the ticket again down the line.
30 days after the ticket becomes a “late answer,” the motorist is suspended. He can still answer the summons after suspension, but this will require the approval of a judge, and the motorist will owe a $70 suspension/termination fee on each ticket for which they are suspended.
If you’ve been doing the math, you realize that this is at least 60 days after the issuance of the summons — quite a bit more than the 15 the ticket warns about.
I recommend you answer TVB tickets online. That way you can confirm that not guilty plea was entered, and you will see the court date right there on your screen. If you mail the ticket to Albany, you cannot know for sure that it will arrive at the destination on time, or at all. You can plead not guilty for a summons here.
Of course, if you want to hire an attorney, we can handle this whole process for you.