IT IS CONSTITUTIONALLY PERMISSIBLE FOR NEW YORK STATE TO TRANSFER THE ADJUDICATION OF TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS TO AN ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY WHICH UTILIZES THE “CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE” STANDARD OF PROOF INSTEAD OF THE HIGHER “BEYOND A REASONABLE DOU
In New York State, prior to 1969, all traffic tickets were handled in the criminal court for the particular jurisdiction where the traffic infraction (speeding, stop sign, red light, etc) allegedly occurred. In 1969, the New York State Legislature enacted Article 2-A of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which authorized the administrative adjudication of traffic infractions in cities with populations in excess of one million people. In 1972, the population requirement was lowered to 275,000. The population requirement is currently 200,000. In other words, cities in the State of New York with a population of more than 200,000 can “opt” into the Department of Motor Vehicle’s Traffic Violation Bureau (TVB) system thus adjudicating traffic infractions administratively instead of in their respective criminal courts.
Currently New York City, Rochester, Buffalo and certain parts of Suffolk County utilize the TVB administrative system. Therefore, if you are issued a ticket in those jurisdictions, your case will be handled by the TVB and determined by an administrative law judge.
Just like in criminal court, the burden of proof in a TVB hearing is upon the People (the prosecution). However, the burden proof is lower in a TVB proceeding than in criminal court. Indeed, the burden of proof for one to be convicted at a TVB hearing is “clear and convincing evidence.” VTL 227(1). However, the burden of proof for one to be convicted of the very same traffic infraction in a criminal court is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In Rosenthal v. Hartnett, 36 N.Y.2d 269 (1975), the Court of Appeals held that it was constitutional for the Legislature to authorize the administrative adjudication of traffic infractions and to utilize the “clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof in such administrative proceedings instead of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Id at 272-273. The utilization of the “clear and convincing evidence” standard in the TVB does not deny a defendant due process of law because the TVB cannot impose a term of imprisonment which would trigger the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Id at 273.
If you have been charged with a traffic infraction such as speeding in New York City or other jurisdictions that adjudicate traffic infractions administratively through the TVB system, click here for more information. You can also call us toll free for a free telephone consultation at 1-877-DR-SUMMONS (1-877-377-8666) or visit us on the web at www.DrSummons.com.