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Can a Police Officer Write a Ticket for a Traffic Violation He Wasn’t Present For?

police officer at traffic stop

It can be really daunting to receive a ticket for a traffic violation. You may feel as though you didn’t do what you have been ticketed for. But there are instances in which a traffic ticket is invalid based on how it was issued. One such instance is when a cop writes a ticket for an offense that he or she did not personally see. This often occurs after an accident. 

Imagine that you are on your way to work and driving on the highway when the vehicle in front of you breaks hard out of the blue. Despite trying to break in time you end up colliding with the rear of their car. When a police officer arrives on the scene, he sees the front of your vehicle damaged and the back of the other car damaged. Based solely on this he issues you a ticket for following too closely. But he didn’t see what happened! Is he legally allowed to do so?

Categories of Offenses in New York

Under New York state law, offenses are categorized in three ways: 1) felonies; 2) misdemeanors; and 3) infractions. Infractions are broken down further into regular infractions or “petty offenses.” Traffic infractions, such as speeding or following too close are considered petty offenses. Police may arrest for misdemeanors and felonies such as reckless driving or DWI even if not present. They can also issue a ticket for infractions that they observe, such as lack of insurance or an equipment violation. However, they are not permitted to write a ticket for infractions that they do not observe. 

Exceptions to Observation Requirement

A police officer is permitted to issue an appearance ticket when a motorist leaves the scene of an accident involving property damage as stated under state law; leaves the scene of an accident involving injury to domestic animals as stated under state law; or is accused of driving while impaired in violation of state law if involved in an accident. No other non-criminal traffic violations are excluded from the law. 

Dismissal of Your Ticket

If you receive a ticket for a violation that the police officer did not witness, you have the legal right to have it dismissed. It’s important not to plead guilty. If you plead guilty you may not change your case.  You should plead not guilty and then initiate a motion to dismiss. 

AutoTrafficTickets.com Helps Those in New York Who Have Been Issued a Traffic Ticket

If you have received a traffic ticket in New York, it can have very serious consequences on your life and your livelihood. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced New York traffic ticket attorney. A knowledgeable and experienced traffic ticket attorney understands the pertinent laws and can help you to establish the best argument. AutoTrafficTickets.com can help. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Traffic Tickets, Traffic Violations