Unfair NY DMV Practices During COVID-19
To stop the spread of COVID-19, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) implemented several safety measures. However, one particular measure is allegedly hurting motorists but helping law enforcement officers.
Phone-in testimonies have become a recent method of operating NY traffic courts. The issue is that only police officers are allowed to testify over the phone while motorists have to either submit written testimonies by mail or appear in court. Many NY traffic lawyers and motorists claim that this is an unfair practice that benefits police officers while hurting drivers.
The NY DMV asserted that, at one time, police officers had a higher rate of spreading COVID-19 and thus did not have to appear in court to testify. But others believe that it is not only unfair but also unconstitutional for drivers to sacrifice their Fifth Amendment right to due process by having to comply with different standards than their arresting officers. Officers are allowed to call-in, but drivers are not, therefore it is estimated that thousands of these tele-hearings have resulted in guilty verdicts.
As a result, the Association of Motor Vehicle Trial Attorneys, Inc. (AMVTA) filed a lawsuit against the NY DMV demanding that it stop utilizing this “safety precaution” because it makes millions of dollars from violating motorists’ constitutional rights. The NY DMV could earn about $21 million from approximately 326,000 tickets issued during the first 6 months of 2020, estimates AMTVA president and attorney Matthew Weiss. Further, Weiss projects that two-thirds of ticketed drivers during this period would receive a guilty verdict and $100 fine.
In the complaint, dozens of hearings involving the following issues were outlined:
- Poor connection resulting in the inability to hear the police officers’ testimonies
- Police officers read off of fill-in-the-blank cheat sheets
- Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) judges offering advice and tips to cops before giving a guilty verdict
- The inability for the police to view defendants’ evidence because they are not physically present, unlike defendants
These are some of the various issues that defendants may experience when fighting their New York City traffic tickets. Although this lawsuit may not be resolved for months, or even years, it is important to make your voice heard if you suffered a violation of your legal rights.
Our New York City traffic lawyers at Gannes & Musico, LLP will not allow for our clients to suffer legal punishments as a result of an unfair and, in our opinion, unlawful “safety precaution.” If officers are allowed to phone in their testimonies, then so should defendants. For help fighting your NYC traffic ticket, please contact us at (877) 803-2603 today!