The city of Rochester will dissolve its Traffic Violations Bureau branch and handle tickets in the new Rochester Traffic Violations Agency, effective April 21.
The establishment of RTVA means drivers can negotiate their tickets or plea down to lesser violations. TVB, a branch of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, does not allow for plea deals. Drivers only have two choices under TVB: plead guilty and suffer the full fine, points and other consequences of the ticket, or take the ticket to trial and hope to be found not guilty. Each year, only 10 percent of drivers get acquitted of charges in the Rochester TVB.
The new RTVA will appoint a prosecutor to each case. Drivers and their lawyers will have the opportunity to discuss a potential settlement of their ticket. This offers the option of pleading guilty to a reduced charge that usually entails a reduction in points and fines. In addition to guaranteeing a more favorable outcome than a full conviction, a plea deal avoids the high risk of taking pay traffic ticket cases to trial. The incentive to the prosecution is the same — it avoids the hassle of trials and ensures that a fine payment is obtained. If the prosecution loses at trial, there is no fine.
RTVA raises the standard for level of evidence needed to convict a driver of an offense. The new agency will require sufficient evidence to convince the judge that the driver is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, as with most other kinds of court cases. In other words, the prosecution carries the burden of proof. This gives each driver challenging a ticket an added advantage. By comparison, TVB only requires proof by clear and convincing evidence.
“Rochester TVA offers a more beneficial system for handling traffic violations within city limits,” said Adam Rosenblum, principal attorney for Rosenblum Law Firm. “Drivers facing exorbitant fines and points on their license can finally avoid the all-or-nothing risk that comes with taking their ticket to trial.”
Drivers who are issued a ticket before April 21 still have to fight or pay their ticket; however, if the deadline to answer the ticket falls after April 21, the ticket will be transferred to RTVA.
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