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NEW YORK TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS: CAN AN OFFICER ISSUE A TICKET FOR A TRAFFIC VIOLATION HE OF SHE DID NOT WITNESS? – PART 2

I previously discussed the New York Court of Appeals decision in People v. Boback, 23 N.Y.2d 189, 295 N.Y.S.2d 912 (1968) which held that an officer can issue a traffic ticket for a non criminal offense he or she did not witness. But the discussion does not end there. Unfortunately, many police officers, prosecutors and judges believe that Boback allows officers to issue tickets for non-criminal traffic offenses the officer did not personally witness that are as jurisdictionally sound as a ticket issued by an officer who actually witnessed the offense. This is simply not the holding of Boback.
The Boback decision noted that where an officer issues a ticket for a non-criminal traffic infraction that the officer did not witness, the ticket itself is insufficient to procure the defendant’s appearance before the court. The Boback decision noted that should the defendant/motorist choose to ignore the summons and not appear on the return date of the summons, the court must take testimony or have before it affidavits which would establish probable cause before issuing an arrest warrant. One could argue therefore, that if they were issued a ticket for a traffic infraction not witnessed by the officer, they need not appear in court and that court may not suspend their license or take any other action against them until that court is presented with testimony or affidavits establishing probable cause.
For example, in People v. Genovese, 156 Misc.2d 569, 593 N.Y.S.2d 925 (Jus. Ct. Town of Mendon 1992), the Court held that it was improper for an officer to arrive at the scene of an accident he or she did not witness, decide who was at fault and issue a summons charging a non-criminal traffic violation. The Court held that an action charging a non-criminal traffic infraction could not be commenced by the filing of a simplified traffic information where the officer did not witness the offense.
If you have been charged with any traffic infraction, offense or misdemeanor such as speeding, Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, Driving While Intoxicated or other offense, call Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-877-377-8666 for a free consultation or visit us on the web at www.drsummons.com.