Saturday, January 23, 2010

How long does a ticket stay on your record in NY?

Speeding tickets and other traffic infractions that happen in New York will show up on a NY driving record. First of all, it only shows up on your record after you've been convicted (if you plead guilty to something or if you lose at trial). Second, in my experience they seem to stay on a record for about three-and-a-half years.

While researching something else today, I came across the definitive answer.

Vehicle & Traffic Law § 354 says that the driving record, or abstract, "shall include enumeration of any convictions of such person of a violation of any provision of any statute relating to the operation of a motor vehicle or any accidents in which a motor vehicle driven by such person has been involved during the current calendar year and the three calendar years preceding that in which the request for the operating record is received ...."

Translating from the legalese:

1. "enumeration of any convictions" - As I said above, it goes on your record when you get convicted, not when you get the ticket.

2. "violation of any provision of any statute" - This is interesting. In one court we handle tickets often get reduced to city code violations instead of state law violations. Does a city code traffic violation go on a driving record? I don't think a city ordinance is considered a statute (something to research perhaps). I've never seen one of these on a driving record.

3. "relating to the operation of a motor vehicle" - What relates to operation? In my experience, most VTL violations do show up on a driving record. The big exception is VTL 1201(a), commonly known as "parking on the pavement", though I've also heard it called "unattended vehicle." I've never seen those on a record. But a seatbelt violation does show up on a record. Does wearing or not wearing a seatbelt really relate to operation?

4. "during the current calendar year and the three calendar years preceding" - That's pretty close to about 3 1/2 years. If it's January of 2010, the record should include everything that happened in 2010 (only January) and the three years before that (07, 08, and 09), or just over three years. But if it's December of 2010, then it covers all of 2010 and the same three previous years, or nearly four years.

So here's a tip. This suggests the best time of year to shop for car insurance (if have a busy driving record) is January. That way the record will only show three years of your misconduct instead of four.