The OATH Failure to Yield Violation

How to fight a ticket written under section 19-190(b) of the NYC Administrative Code.

If you drive in New York City, you know that every turn is an adventure. And sometimes, those adventures go wrong.

In 2020, there were 6,505 traffic accidents involving a pedestrian.

(In 94 of those cases, the pedestrians died. These incidents result in fatal accident hearings. This post is about the other cases.)

In the other 6,411 accidents, the pedestrian suffered nonfatal injuries. In the majority if these cases, the driver receives a pink summons reportable to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

The summons allege a violation of New York City Administrative Code 19-190.

The Law: What is 19-190?

19-190(a) is a traffic infraction, with a max fine of $100. This violation is cited when there is no physical contact or injury involving the pedestrian or cyclist.

19-190(b) is a misdemeanor, with a max fine of $250. It is cited when the pedestrian or cyclist is struck and injured by the motorist’s vehicle.

While 19-190(b) is a misdemeanor, you won’t face jail time if you are so charged.

What are the consequences of an OATH failure to yield violation?

At a glance, they may seem minor. But if you look deeper, they are anything but.

The minor: $250 fine.

The less minor: the infraction will go on your driving record, likely affecting your insurance. In other words, your driving abstract will now show that you were responsible for a traffic accident in which a pedestrian was injured.

The major: This conviction can be held against you in other proceedings. The snazzy Latin legal term is “res judicata.” What does that mean, in real-person-speak?

Once a matter is decided by one court, other courts will honor that decision. Meaning, if you are found guilty at OATH for a 19-190(b) case, and you are later sued by the pedestrian in civil court, the civil court will start off with the presumption that you are culpable. Likewise, if there is an insurance claim, the insurance company will see the OATH conviction and presume that you are at fault. That’s not a position where you want to find yourself.

So, the stakes are high. A conviction could potentially cost you a ton of liability in civil court, or thousands upon thousands in insurance premiums.

What happens when I do an OATH failure to yield case on my own?

Post-COVID, OATH handles all its trials virtually. Your case will be heard via phone.

You’ll call in, enter the case information given to you by OATH, and wait for the judge to take your call. Settle in — sometimes it takes a few hours.

Once the judge calls the case, he or she will read the summons into the record. The summons itself is the official charge against you.

You will then have the chance to say whatever you want to say in your own defense. If you are testifying in your own defense, you can expect the judge to ask his or her own questions about what happened.

Once the hearing concludes, the judge will issue a “reserved decision.” This means that the judge will consider the arguments made and will write up a decision, which you can expect to receive via mail in a few weeks.

What happens when you hire an attorney to represent you in an OATH failure to yield case?

You don’t need to attend the hearing. I will handle that for you.

At the hearing, I’ll make legal arguments undermining the case against you. The judge won’t get the chance to cross-examine you, and you’ll have the benefit of an attorney analyzing the summons for errors, inconsistencies, and omissions.

While it’s impossible to make guarantees about the outcomes of a legal proceeding, your chances of winning are very high.

You’ll avoid the annoyance of the call and the wait, and have a much better chance of winning.

If you are charged with this violation, call my office before you do anything else, and we can discuss your options in detail.