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Ticket Defense in NY and NJ

I have resolved over 12,000 tickets since 2003. I know the "game." Once you tell me where you got the ticket in New York or New Jersey, I can tell you how many points your facing, what the potential fines are, what my fee is and the potential impact on your insurance. IF YOU DON'T NEED A LAWYER I WILL TELL YOU THAT ALSO, I PRIDE MYSELF OF BEING HONEST AND IF I CAN SAVE YOU THE MONEY OF HIRING A NY TRAFFIC ATTORNEY, I WILL TELL YOU. Contact me today for FREE and HONEST consultation about your issue.

Matisyahu Wolfberg, Esq.
For the quickest response:  Scan and email me your ticket:  or fax it to  845-818-3905

What my clients are saying about their NY & NJ Tickets:   " "   (click here to read two more testimonials)
Please note: Prior success does not guarantee future results 

Several Times over the last several years, I have been intereviewed as an authority on New York traffic tickets and speeding violations.  Below is a sampling:

Rockland Journal News
July 15, 2009
Return to  Home of NY Speeding Ticket Defense
Cops: Extreme speeders are easy targets

Shawn Cohen and Cathey O'Donnell

Michael Maciejewski, his Acura's tires smoking after he slammed on the brakes, had very little he could say when he was clocked going 142 mph on Interstate 684. As the state trooper peered through his window, the 24-year-old Connecticut man just looked up and confessed he was speeding because he was late for a movie in Hawthorne. The March 2007 ticket in Southeast was believed to be the highest ever recorded locally, but so many extreme speeders have followed that troopers hiding out along I-684 these days seldom bother stopping "routine speeders" - those going, say, 75 mph.

DATABASE: See how fast convicted speeders were clocked in your community

"We can't write everybody up," said Trooper Brad Molloy of the Somers barracks, watching several speeders pass by in Bedford before pouncing on a Dodge Caravan going 90. "I think she's crying," Molloy observed, popping on his gray Stetson and dark Bole shades before walking over to ticket the Massachusetts driver. I-684, stretching from Harrison to Brewster and featuring long, wide straightaways, is the Lower Hudson Valley's closest thing to Germany's Autobahn. Since the speed limit was raised to 65 a few years ago, many drivers have shown they can double that. Bad boy rapper DMX was clocked at 104 mph in 2004, only to be surpassed by his wife, who was found going 106 on the same highway two years later. But three male speedsters were convicted of doing more than 130 mph on I-684 between 2006 and 2007. Seven drivers, all men, reached 130-plus during that period in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. The other four were stopped on the Sprain Brook Parkway, Interstate 87 and Route 9 in Westchester and the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Rockland, according to a review of state records by The Journal News.

Speeders on the rise

Records also show that 11,210 drivers were convicted of speeding on I-684 in Westchester and Putnam in 2006 and 2007 - more than any other highway in the region. Of 104,529 drivers convicted of speeding in the Lower Hudson Valley, the average speeder was going about 20 mph over the limit, with 452 going more than 100 mph.

"It's not as uncommon as it once was," said state police Sgt. John Hennigan, station commander in Somers. "Cars nowadays, they go very, very fast. A lot of cars can go 120 to 130 miles per hour, even faster, some of them. It's like German cars designed for the Autobahn."

For police, speeders are easy targets. Increased traffic enforcement efforts almost always yield results and are a big reason police are issuing more tickets.

"We consistently have an increase in the number of speeding tickets from year to year, so speeding continues to be an area where we focus our efforts," said state police Sgt. Christopher Lopez, a traffic safety officer based in Dutchess County.

But for the offenders, getting stopped is just the beginning of their predicament. There's still that dreaded trip to local traffic court, where they can get anything from a slap to a set of handcuffs on the wrists.

Often, it's just a slap. Statistics show that, in 2006 and 2007, less than half the 160,016 speeding tickets in the region resulted in convictions on the original charge. Many plead guilty to lesser offenses, such as an equipment violation, thereby avoiding points on their licenses.

A couple of years ago, state police ordered troopers to stop plea bargaining their cases at court, but prosecutors still have the discretion to dispose of cases as they see fit.

In Southeast Town Court, Maciejewski was sentenced to five days in jail and a $455 fine after pleading guilty to going 95 in the 65 zone. He could have faced 15 days in jail for that offense.

Long arm of the law

The Journal News' review shows the speeders on I-684 have it relatively easy, punishment-wise, compared to those on certain highways in Rockland and Orange counties.

Walkill Town Justice Raymond Shoemaker, a former state trooper who has responded to several speed-related fatal car crashes, has sentenced people to up to 15 days in jail for driving 90 mph, as little as 25 mph over the limit.

"Over the last four or five years, we've had some rather violent motor vehicle accidents occurring on our local highways," Shoemaker said. "It appears that it's mostly young, inexperienced drivers who are involved. How best do you think these kids are going to learn? Just to get a reduced speed, a fine and a surcharge and away they go? If you're going to go that kind of speed, maybe they need a little reminder how serious what they have done is."

The law allows judges broad leeway in deciding these cases.

"The discrepancy is largely due to the way the New York justice system works," said Matis Wolfberg,  ( an attorney who specializes in traffic cases. "Many different jurisdictions, and many different hands and minds, are involved in this plea-bargain and punishment process. It's on the local level that the judges are elected, so some places can be extremely conservative and harsh in dealing with speeders, while some are not as harsh and not looking to throw the book at people. It depends on where you are."

John Campbell, a White Plains lawyer who routinely handles traffic cases, said it's absurd for judges to jail drivers when their offenses wouldn't even result in a license suspension, though he acknowledged that some of the extreme speeds are like a "missile going down the highway."

"When it gets over 95 or 100, that's not just going with the flow of the traffic," he said.

Ongoing problem

State police Sgt. Duane Dolson, whose barracks in Haverstraw patrols the Palisades Interstate Parkway, said speeding there has been a problem throughout his seven years as station commander.

"This road was built for people to take a nice ride into the country to utilize the parks, and has turned into a commuter superhighway," Dolson said.

Speeding has become so routine that drivers on certain highways, such as I-684, say it's sometimes safer to speed with the rest of the traffic. Others don't even realize they're going too fast.

Develle Gatson, a 28-year-old from Yonkers who was clocked at 85 mph, said he couldn't have been going more than 60 mph to 65 mph when he was stopped in Southeast.

"I'm pretty confident I wasn't speeding, but it's my word versus a state trooper's," Gatson said during his recent court date. "Who do you think is going to win?"

Molloy, the Somers trooper who stops dozens of speeders per shift, said drivers almost always try to justify or deny their speed.

"Everyone has an excuse why they're speeding," he said, citing a personal favorite: a man who claimed he was rushing to take his dog to get impregnated.

While that one made him laugh, Molloy has also seen the consequences of speed, having responded last year to a motorcycle crash on I-684 in which a 24-year-old Pleasantville man was killed after witnesses saw him going more than 100 mph.

"We're trying to get a point across that people should slow it down," he said. "Speed limits are posted for a reason."


By GREG CLARY Send e-mail to Greg Clary
(Original publication: August 7, 2004)

One can hardly blame Matis Wolfberg for trying creative ways to sell his legal services, but the Monsey lawyer won't be able to advertise his traffic ticket-beating skills on the New York State Thruway anymore.

Thruway Authority officials yesterday did a U-turn and said they would take down an adopt-a-highway sign near Exit 11 in Nyack that promotes Wolfberg's Web site,

"The name comes from what most people say when they're stopped for speeding," Wolfberg said yesterday. "It's usually, 'But, Officer, I was not speeding.'"

Wolfberg said he'd seen a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in hits to his Web site in the two months since he paid to put the sign on the southbound side of the toll road, which can get more than 75,000 cars going that direction on any given day.

Because the sign promotes a service designed to beat speeding tickets given out by state police trying to maintain a safe roadway, Thruway officials said they were rescinding the approval they had given.

"It didn't initially alert the staff that reviewed the application," Thruway spokesman Dan Gilbert said of the sign's message. "It isn't consistent with the Thruway's core mission of highway safety. We've instructed that the sign be taken down and will see that the business gets a refund."

Gilbert said he expected the sign to be removed as early as today.

State troopers at the Thruway's police headquarters in Tarrytown yesterday said they had noticed the sign and even checked out the Web site but weren't bothered by it.

"If a trooper is prepared when he goes to a trial," said State Police Sgt. John Maasz, "these strategies don't work, anyway."

Wolfberg wouldn't divulge how much was paid to place the sign, which is the Thruway's version of a program that is successful across the country, trading cleaned highways for a little roadside advertising.

The Thruway, because of limited access, doesn't allow average citizens to pick up trash along its highway, as most other road agencies do.

Agency officials instead chose the strategy of contracting out the cleaning to companies and charge a fee to someone else who wants credit for helping to clean the roadside.

Brian Mahoney, a regular Tappan Zee corridor driver from Bergen County, said he didn't think much of the Thruway's initial approval of Wolfberg's sign.

"You don't adopt a highway for anything other than a good cause," Mahoney said. 

The road-cleaning programs across the country allow advertising from for-profit organizations, but Thruway officials — after initially saying they didn't have a policy regarding the signs — conceded it was up to them to decide if something was appropriate for its 641-mile toll road.

Peter Spadaro of Stony Point goes past the sign about once a week and said he knew right away it was a legal service.

What he didn't know was that the legal service wasn't sponsored by the Thruway just because there was a sign on the roadway.

"If I saw his track record, I might try him out," Spadaro said. 

Thruway officials said their objective was to keep their highway clean for as little money as possible and leave the choice of clients primarily to those who do the actual cleaning.

Wolfberg said his services were appropriate and drivers were entitled to representation in traffic court just as any accused person in the judicial system was.

"It's great advertising — drivers see it right after they get a ticket," Wolfberg said before the Thruway officials decided against the sign late yesterday. "Most of my clients are hard-working New Yorkers who were driving with the flow of traffic, going for business or pleasure. The bulk of them were not endangering anyone's life."


Speed can kill your wallet  Posted: Aug. 11, 2003
By Julie Sturgeon • Abridged from

Consider radar detectors the devil rather than your savior. Mathisyahu Wolfberg, a former police officer and now a traffic attorney who owns, knows they won't stop pacing, clocking, helicopters or any visual speed estimation techniques.

Instead, focus your thinking on how to put the patrolman at ease. Curran starts by keeping both hands visibly on the wheel with his fingers out to indicate a non-threatening stance. If it's night, turn on your dome light, and always leave your seatbelt fastened lest you invite a second write-up. Scrap any thought of what Wolfberg calls the "bologna excuses":

"I have to pee," "My mother is sick," and "I couldn't possibly have been going that fast" rank among the more tired reasons. Instead, engage the officer with friendlier 30-second openers to establish camaraderie before you fork over the license and registration:

    * "Officer, I'm very sorry. I think you guys are doing great work."
    * "Good afternoon. I understand the procedure here, since my uncle is a retired sheriff's deputy."

Warning: chatty Cathys irritate officers, so make your greeting germane. "Nice weather we're having," only gets you a blink, and a request for the paperwork.

Do practice your answers to an officer's routine script:

    * "Do you know why I stopped you?" The correct response, says Wolfberg, is always a polite no.
    * "Do you know how fast you were going?" Turn the question back on him with "Do you believe I was speeding?"
    * "I clocked you at 80 miles in a 65 zone." Gently say, "I see," or the even simpler, "Oh."

If you have a legitimate reason, offer it in a calm tone.

Otherwise, ask for a warning ticket or let silence reign. But do not admit guilt, especially through back-door confessions such as, "My speedometer registered only 78" or "I couldn't be going over 75." It instantly shoots your chances of wiggling free from the financial consequences in court.

Skrum suggests drivers use the time the cop checks your paperwork to take note of the area and the circumstances. Did you see the officer? Where was he when he pulled into traffic with his sirens on? What is the terrain?

If you do end up in court, it just might help.


The Basics from BANKRATE.COM  (return to
8 top traffic-ticket myths

Return to

Much of what you've heard isn't true. But this is: If an officer asks if you know why you were pulled over, the answer is a very polite 'no.'
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Drivers of red cars get more tickets. If you don't sign a ticket, the case will be dropped.

If the officer gets your hair color wrong on the ticket, you'll win.

Such stories relating to traffic tickets abound, but drivers and defendants will find that few of them are true.

The best advice is to simply to obey the law, know that rules and procedures vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and not count on urban myths when you hope to escape a ticket -- or its consequences.
Myth No. 1
If the officer makes a single mistake on your ticket, the case will be dropped.

A ticket should be seen as an accusatory instrument and a basis for prosecution that must be factually valid, says Matisyahu Wolfberg, an attorney and former police officer from Monsey, N.Y., who represents defendants in traffic cases.

Clerical mistakes, such as a wrong number or wrong order of a person's name, are usually overlooked. Material mistakes, like the identity of the driver, the direction of travel, the street where the citation occurred or the description of the vehicle, can usually help a driver win the case.

"Any mistakes that involve who, where and how usually can be used to beat the case in a trial. If the description of the vehicle is inaccurate, the officer will usually lose," says Wolfberg.

He recalls one recent case in which the officer cited a white Mercedes when the defendant was actually driving a black Porsche.
Myth No. 2
If the officer doesn't show up in court, you automatically win.

Though this may happen in many cases, there's nothing automatic about it. Most judges will drop a case if the officer does not appear in court because defendants have a constitutional right to question their accusers.

However, in some jurisdictions, a case is scheduled at a time to help ensure the officer is present, or a judge will reschedule the case altogether. Wolfberg says that in most cases an officer not showing up will result in a dismissal, but there is no guarantee.

"It all depends on the jurisdiction, the court, the judge, the law," says Wolfberg. "Most judges feel the pain of people taking time off work and out of their lives to come to court and will dismiss if the officer doesn't show."
Myth No. 3
Red cars get more tickets.

Forum posters on Color Matters, a Web site that focuses on color theory and everything that color affects, claim drivers of red cars get more tickets.

There are no official studies to confirm that red cars do get more tickets, but some suggest the bold color tends to attract more attention from everyone, including police officers. There is also a theory that red cars can create an optical illusion that makes them appear to be going faster than they really are.
Video on MSN Money
Speeding car © Image Source/SuperStock
The hidden price of a traffic ticket
Think twice before paying up immediately. Here are options that could protect you from higher insurance premiums.

One myth says that insurance companies charge higher premiums for red cars. Allstate and Progressive say that a car's color has no bearing on the premiums they charge.
Myth No. 4
You need a lawyer to beat a ticket.

You might expect most traffic-ticket attorneys to say you can't beat your own ticket. With a little time and homework, however, many people successfully fight their own traffic tickets. At the very least, first-time offenders for minor offenses can usually strike a plea bargain in most jurisdictions.

An attorney's fee will often outweigh the fines and impact of a first violation, but in states such as Texas and Florida, some law firms have entire practices dedicated to fighting tickets and can often do so at reasonable rates.

Continued: You can't hide
The Basics
8 top traffic-ticket myths

Continued from page 1

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Myth No. 5
If you get a ticket in another state, your home state won't find out about it.

The interstate Driver License Compact is an agreement between participating states that share information regarding certain types of traffic convictions. Reports on traffic violations and suspensions are forwarded to the home state of the nonresident.

There are only a handful of states -- Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Michigan and Wisconsin -- that are not members of the compact.

There is also the National Driver Register, a database of information about drivers who have had their licenses revoked or suspended due to serious traffic violations. States provide the register with information about these serious offenses, and those in the database can be denied licenses in other states.
Myth No. 6
You can make up an excuse to get out of the ticket.

Most police officers aren't interested in excuses. When an officer pulls you over, he already suspects you of an infraction. You'll have your day in court and many ways to fight the ticket.

Remember: Any explanation you give about why you were speeding is an admission that you were speeding. If an officer logs those explanations in his notes, the statements could later be used against you in court. That's why, whenever an officer asks if you know why you've been pulled over, always answer "no" and just take the ticket.
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"Never admit to speeding in the process of talking," says Aaron Quinn, the communications director for the National Motorists Association. "I would say just to be polite with the officer. Reasoning with the officer is something that might help you out if you actually are on your way to the hospital. You can try talking; just don't admit guilt."
Myth No. 7
A radar detector will ensure that you never get pulled over.

"Radar detectors give drivers a false sense of security that they can speed as much as they want without facing the consequences of breaking the law," says Ken Underwood, the president of the National Safety Commission, an organization that promotes safe driving.

But speeding drivers are also more likely to commit other infractions, and a radar detector can't tell you when a cop is watching you run that red light or make an illegal turn. Virginia and Washington, D.C., both ban the use of radar detectors, and it looks like Florida may do the same soon.
Video on MSN Money
Speeding car © Image Source/SuperStock
The hidden price of a traffic ticket
Think twice before paying up immediately. Here are options that could protect you from higher insurance premiums.

 Radar-detector users often find themselves chasing new technology as law enforcement upgrades its speed-detection devices.

Myth No. 8
If you don't sign the ticket, it will be dismissed.

Signing a ticket is not an admission of guilt. The signature is merely an acknowledgement you received the ticket and a promise to appear in court.

Refusing to sign the ticket -- and there are drivers who think that if they don't sign, they can lie in court and say they weren't there -- will do nothing but agitate the officer and invite more scrutiny.

In some states, such as Texas, refusal to sign a ticket can mean a trip to jail. Houston attorney Robert Eutsler says that if you don't sign the ticket, the officer has the choice to either take you to jail or write on the ticket "refused to sign."

"It's a promise to appear in court on a certain day -- that's all it is,'' says Eutsler. "It's certainly a myth that if you don't sign it, it's going to get dismissed. You're more likely to get arrested, and the officer is going to get very upset."

This article was reported and written by Craig Guillot for

Published Aug. 21, 2007

The Basics
It pays to avoid a ticket -- or fight one

The best advice is simply not to speed, at least not brazenly. But if you get nailed, fight it -- because a $50 ticket can cost you thousands once your insurer gets wind of it.

 By Chris Solomon

Now is a very bad time to have a lead foot.

States facing yawning budget gaps are finding new money by pinching speeders more frequently -- and pinching them harder, too. Texas lawmakers recently added $30 to fines for speeding tickets. California has added a surcharge of between $7 and $20, depending on the severity of the violation. And the Illinois Legislature is set to tag an additional $4 to the cost of a minor speeding ticket.

True, four more bucks won’t change your life, but the fine is usually the least of your worries. Even one speeding ticket can begin to turn your name to mud in your insurer’s eyes. More than one can cost you thousands of dollars in higher premiums.

Insurance companies say punishing speeders is well warranted: In one study, California drivers with one speeding citation in a three-year period had a crash rate 50% higher, on average, than those with no infractions -- and the crash rate more than doubled for those who had two or more tickets, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, industry-sponsored research groups.

A ticket from Johnny Law does seem to slow people down, at least for a bit. A study of Ontario traffic statistics, published in the British medical journal the Lancet, found that a conviction for a moving violation cut the risk of a fatal crash in the following month by 35%. The benefit evaporated by four months after the conviction. Assigning penalty points to a driver’s license -- especially for speeding tickets -- reduced the risk of fatal crashes more than convictions without penalty points.
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Keeping your nose clean
Still, as long as running late is an American pastime, people will speed. And there are ways to protect yourself and your premiums. First, reduce your likelihood of getting snagged by the speed gun in these ways:

    * Know thyself. Spend $5 to request your driving record from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Is it accurate? Could you face a suspension hearing if you get convicted for one more violation? Then call your insurer. Find out what a slip-up would mean to your rates.

    * Penny-wise = pound foolish. Police will frequently key on an auto that has problems such as broken headlights, taped-over taillights or a missing front license plate. Spend $3 to replace a burned-out license plate bulb and you may save hundreds of dollars later, says Matisyahu Wolfberg, a policeman-turned-traffic defense attorney in New York.

    * Stay incognito, Part I. Driving an arrest-me red sports car doesn’t guarantee you’ll get pulled over, but it doesn’t help avoid police, say defense attorneys. Ditto -- albeit to a lesser degree -- any expensive car. Consider a Camry over a Corvette and you may save money in more than the showroom.

    * Stay incognito, Part II. Ignore the general pace of traffic at your own peril. “You’re a pack animal; don’t stick out of the pack.”  Passing police cars is verboten. Stay in the right lane when possible.

    * Keep your eyes peeled. Scan your rear-view mirror often while driving. Look for possible spots far ahead where a patrol car could hide. Also, watch how professional truckers drive, and slow down when they do; they’ve got far more experience detecting Smokey.

    * Don’t be sticker shocked. Pasting a Police Benevolent Association sticker to the rear window isn’t a license to speed. That jig is long up. Wisecracking bumper stickers -- “Bad Cop; No Donut” -- won’t endear you to The Man, either.

The traffic stop and its aftermath
You get pulled over anyway. Now what do you do?

    * Be polite. “Most of the time, the motorist has very little chance. The officer has already has made up his mind,” says Wolfberg, the former cop. “The only real chance the driver has is to be nice.” Act peeved and a trooper may give you the full fine. Some will also flag the citation with a notation, like “ND” -- a note to a prosecutor or to himself (in some states, law-enforcement officers act as prosecutors in traffic court) to give a loudmouth “no deal” in court.

    * Don’t admit guilt. “The absolutely fatal question is, ‘Do you know why I stopped you?’” says attorney Mark Sutherland, co-author of the book “Traffic Ticket Defense.” Authorities can use any admission of guilt against you when you contest the ticket (see below). For other things to consider during a traffic stop, see hints on the Web site of the National Motorists Association, a drivers’ rights group (see the link at left under Related Sites).

    * Once home, don’t immediately pay the ticket. Simply paying the fine, an admission of guilt, could cost you dearly in insurance rates. Doubt it? Let’s say you’re an experienced driver in California with a single-car policy and a good driving record, who is paying the average rates statewide for liability, collision and comprehensive coverage, $765 annually. If you were a Prudential Financial customer you’d get a 25% good-driver discount and pay only $574. One speeding ticket would mean a roughly 27% increase from the base premium, says Prudential’s Laurita Warner -- a $207 annual increase, or $621 more over three years. (Surcharges usually last for three years.)

      Get a second minor conviction and your premium would rise an additional 40%, and you’d also lose your good-driver discount, says Warner. Suddenly, a premium that was $574 has ballooned to $1,071. After the third conviction, expect to pay roughly 63% more than you originally did, or $1,247. Over three years you would end up paying $2,020 more than if you’d kept your nose clean, or much more than the fines themselves. Clearly, getting pinched leaves a painful scar.

      The pain can be even worse if you’re a teenager or young adult. “Getting even one speeding ticket, much less two, can cause a dramatic spike in your insurance rates -- sometimes doubling and even tripling those rates -- and jeopardize your ability to get preferred insurance rates,” says Karl Newman, president of the Washington Insurance Council, a consumer education group funded by member insurance companies in Washington State. “That could require you to purchase high-risk insurance.”

      Luckily, you’ve got several initial options once busted:

          o Ignoring the ticket isn’t one of them. “It used to be if you obtained a ticket in New York, it didn’t get back to New Jersey,” but that’s no longer true.  Avoid a ticket and a warrant may be issued for your arrest -- a warrant that appears even on the computer system of your hometown cops.
          o Special state programs. Talk to your state’s DMV or local traffic court to find out about ways to erase your ticket. In Rhode Island, for example, if you haven’t had any vehicle-related violations in three years and then receive a minor one (for example, for exceeding the speed limit by less than 20 miles an hour), you can ask that the ticket be dismissed. It usually is. In some southern states, authorities will agree to defer judgment, if you don’t get any more tickets for the next six months.
          o Traffic school. Often your best alternative is to take a six- to eight-hour safety course for drivers. Policies vary by state, but often a minor speeding conviction can be wiped from your record and therefore go unseen by your employer or insurance company. You’ll still have to pay the fine, plus an additional $50 to $80 in tuition and other costs, and invest a Saturday. Some states such as California let drivers take the course online. Traffic school has its limits, however. In some states, it’s an option only once every 18 or 24 months. In others, those caught exceeding the speed limit by more than 15 to 20 mph may not be eligible, says David Brown, author of the book “Beat Your Ticket.”

      Should you go to court?
      If the above options aren’t available, go to court. Court doesn’t have to be a Perry Mason experience. Simply asking for your day in traffic court can save you money. Count the ways:

    * Showing up is half the battle. Only about 3% of all tickets are contested, estimates Brown, which means even a few people showing up to challenge a ticket can jam the system. “A lot of times the courts will change the ticket for you, to encourage you not to go to court” -- sometimes reducing a moving violation to a lesser charge that your insurance company won’t penalize you for, says Eric Skrum, spokesman for the National Motorists Association.

    * Cop no-shows. If you show up on your assigned date, defense attorneys say that in 20% to 25% of cases the ticket-writing officer won't. If the officer is required to show up (jurisdictions have different rules), no appearance usually means the ticket is thrown out. No-shows by police happen even more in summer, when even they take vacations.

    * Errors matter (sometimes). While courts will often excuse minor errors on a ticket -- a misspelled name, a quibble over whether your Jag is ochre or orange -- if the officer cites the wrong statute on the ticket, or grossly misidentifies the highway or your make of car, you may to get your ticket dismissed, says Skrum. It’s often best to keep mum about the gaffe until you go to court, however, and reveal the mistake after the officer has recounted the wrong information.

    * An 'A' for effort. If you do get all the way to a magistrate or traffic commissioner, any reasonable objection you have to the ticket is likely to at least reduce the amount of the fine, and perhaps change it to an infraction that won’t hurt your rates. “You’ve got to fight every ticket, because the only thing anyone will ever know is what you reduced it to. The accusation will be lost in the courthouse.”

      The above, “soft” approach often works, but some people prefer to aggressively contest the ticket, which they usually do with at least some success. When Michael Pelletier, a 32-year-old computer systems engineer in the Bay Area, got a ticket a few years ago, he rented the nine-pound (!) legal defense kit from the National Motorists Association. (The rental cost of the packet, which is tailored to the requester’s state, is $50 per month, with a discount for NMA members.)

      “The only thing I did was crank the legal crank,” says Pelletier. That meant asking for continuances and requesting records -- proof of when the officer’s radar gun was last calibrated and when the officer was trained in its use -- in hopes of finding a flaw in the authorities’ case, or simply wearing them down until they offered a deal.

      A pre-emptive strike
      Battling in court can be time-consuming and complicated. Pelletier estimates he invested nearly 50 hours in the year 2000 to fight his ticket, which he received driving his motorcycle 47 miles an hour in a 25 mph zone. He got it dismissed seven months later based on an esoteric legal definition of a “local street or road.”

      In Pelletier’s eyes, the struggles are worthwhile despite the time commitment. He has also helped his wife and brother keep three citations from their records, and his insurance company recently upgraded him to a “superior” driver, which means he will pay $70 less in the next six months than he had been paying. And by keeping his driving record clean he’s ensured that his next ticket -- if it sticks -- won’t hurt him so much as it might have.

      If you don’t have the time to do all of this research, consider hiring an attorney who frequently deals with speeding tickets. Such an attorney will know how to get the best deal for you and can often appear in court for you, so you don’t have to take a day off to do so. Fees can vary from $75 to $750, in part depending on whether they’re already frequently in the courthouse dealing with such matters.

      The free piece of advice they give, however, is the same: Confront your speeding ticket, even if it’s your first, and do your darnedest to make it disappear. After all, they add, you never know when you’ll get your next one, with higher premiums close behind.


The Scariest Speed Traps in Rockland

(Original Publication: March 8, 2007)

To find the biggest speeding-ticket sites, we contacted traffic attorney Matisyahu Wolfberg ( and lots of residents.

Route 17 from Suffern to Sloatsburg: Near Auntie El’s Farmers’ Market.

Route 303 in Tappan: Cops hide in the Moritz Funeral Home parking lot.

College Road between Viola and Carlton (near Rockland Community College): An open road with a low speed limit (35 mph).
The entire Palisades Parkway: Cool your jets in Haverstraw, where there’s construction.

Thruway extension in Chestnut Ridge, to and from the Garden State Parkway: Cops lurk in the center medians.

Thruway eastbound near Tappan Zee entrance: Day time, when traffic is moving.

Still got pulled over?
Attorney Wolfberg’s tips:

• Do not incriminate yourself. If the cop asks “Do you know why I stopped you?” say “I don’t know” (after all, you’re not a mind reader) or nothing. Do not discuss the speed limit or how fast you think you were going.

• Be nice. It’ll give you a better chance to plea-bargain in traffic court.

• Try to engage the officer in conversation (this will be tough). He just might cut you a break.

• Go the speed limit next time! It’s the best way to avoid fines and points.

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