It’s been a long 15 days.
Every night, you’ve checked the DMV website, entering your nine-digit New York client ID number and your ten-digit ticket number.
And you’ve gotten the same result — nada.
So what does this mean? Is your license going to get suspended? Did the ticket disappear?
No, and probably not.
The infamous “15 days to answer” your ticket is, in fact, a myth. DMV gives you at least a six weeks to answer a new ticket before your answer is considered late, and another 30 days from that before your license is suspended.
And it’s common that a ticket takes more than 15 days to be filed with the DMV system.
Remember what has to happen for the ticket to go from the police officer who gave it to you, to the online DMV files.
First, the cop must enter the ticket into his or her computer, and then file that entry with their sergeant at the precinct.
From there, the ticket is sent to a clerk in Albany, who is tasked with the manual labor of entering the ticket number and the corresponding information into DMV records.
Only after that occurs will the ticket be officially “in the system,” and only then can you plead your ticket “not guilty” and receive a court date.
Most of the time, this happens in a matter of days. Most police officers who write tickets do so with regularity. They will hand the ticket to their sergeant at the end of their tour, and the next day it will be in Albany, and another day or two later it will be entered and online.
But some officers, and sergeants, and clerks, are not as diligent. In some cases, it may take a few days, or longer, for one of them to do their part in the process. And other things may intervene, as well. Staffing shortages, holiday weekends, clerical oversights, and so forth. Basically, the kind of stuff that happens at every workplace in America.
This means it could be a week, or two weeks, or three weeks,, or a month, or even longer before your ticket is entered online and can be answered.
So, if you’re representing yourself, the sad truth if that you’ve just got to keep checking and checking and checking until you can schedule a date.
Okay, but that’s the online system. What happens if I just mail in my ticket with a “not guilty” plea?
If you choose to mail your ticket to Albany — assuming your mail is in fact received and processed there — a DMV clerk will enter the ticket upon receipt.
My office discourages this, for reasons that will be discussed in the next section…
Okay, so what happens if my ticket is never filed at all?
It happens more than you might think. It’s very possible that your ticket will simply never appear.
This means that somewhere in the aforementioned chain, a breakdown occurred. Perhaps the police officer misplaced his summons,. Perhaps the sergeant never submitted the ticket to Albany. Perhaps a clerk in Albany made a mistake.
If a ticket has not been filed for several months, it’s highly likely that one of these things happened, which means the ticket is probably lost and will never be filed.
What happens if a “lost” ticket is found, months or years later?
This is very, very rare, but it has happened before.
DMV cannot suspend you for answering a ticket that does not exist.
Once the ticket hits the system, at long last, DMV will mail you a notice advising you of the response date, which is relative to the time the ticket was filed online, not the day it was issued.
This means that if you get a ticket in June of 2020, and somehow it’s filed in June of 2021, your suspension date will be in July or August of 2021.
What’s the best course of action of you have an old ticket that has not been filed yet?
My office routinely checks the DMV system to see if new tickets have been entered. At any given time, we have dozens of tickets that were issued weeks, months or even years ago that have still not been filed.
Eventually, we will close the ticket out with the assumption that it has long since diappeared. Remember, you can’t be convicted of a ticket that is never filed — that’s why it is better to do this than to mail the ticket in to Albany.
In the off chance the ticket is eventually filed, you’ll get a notice from DMV in the mail, which will still afford you plenty of time to answer the ticket and get a date. If we are handling your matter, we will jump right back in at this stage and handle the ticket as we would handle any other ticket.
Contact Stites Law at (212) 729-0472 to learn more.