There’s no doubt that the last year has been one of unimaginable loss. Aside from the senseless deaths of many loved ones, others have had to battle with lost jobs or reduced hours. It’s needless to say that times have been challenging. That’s why in an effort to help combat these many challenges, Governor Andrew C. Cuomo signed a new law into effect in order to help those motorists who are unable to pay their New York traffic tickets.
The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act
The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act, also known as the Hunter-Kennedy law, was signed on December 31, 2020. The Act has three parts. It:
- Requires income-based payment plans to be offered for financially-strapped motorists for fines, fees, and mandatory surcharges incurred as a result of a violation of the vehicle and traffic law;
- Vests discretion in judges to reduce or waive monies owed in the interests of justice; and
- Requires additional notices be provided to motorists.
More than a million driver’s licenses are suspended in New York annually for failing to appear in traffic court or to pay fines, fees, and surcharges. When a driver fails to do these things and is caught driving on a suspended license, he or she can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.
Getting Out of a Lose-Lose Situation
With money being so tight for so many Americans, the ability to drive to and from work can make all the difference in someone’s ability to keep food on the table and the lights on. When someone is forced to either pay a fine or to lose their means of transportation, it can be a lose-lose situation.
The Act is intended to fix some of the inequities that come with imposing these fees upon those who are unable to afford them. Since low-income and minority communities are already disproportionately affected by license suspensions, the consequences that can occur as a result of these suspensions (e.g. inability to pay rent, lost jobs, etc.) can place them into a deep hole – one that is beyond difficult to get out of.
In an effort to combat these issues, the new law requires that traffic court judges offer installment payment plans for those who are in need. Previously, individuals who received fines were only given two weeks (with a possible two-week extension) to pay their fines before having their license suspended.
These payment plans require a monthly payment that is not to exceed $10.00 or 2% of the driver’s monthly net income (whichever is greater).
Those who desire a payment plan may be required to fill out a financial disclosure report on a form from the DMV. They may also be required to return annually in order for the judge to reassess their current financial situation. Motorists may also petition traffic courts for a reduction should things change. Judges have the power to reduce or waive fees owed in the “interests of justice.”
Motorists Must be Informed
Under the new law, traffic courts are required to notify motorists that they have the right to seek a payment plan at the time that they are issued the ticket, they are sentenced, or when they receive communications regarding the collection of what they owe.
Those who currently have a suspended license due to the inability to pay their fines have the right to ask to reinstate their license and set up a payment plan.
Cuomo and the state of New York are hopeful that the new law will help to reduce discrimination, break the related poverty cycle, reduce the criminalization of poverty, make the roads safer, and allow individuals to respond better to medical emergencies (by having their license on them). This last goal is especially important given the ongoing pandemic.
AutoTrafficTickets.com Helps Those in New York Who Wish to Obtain a Payment Plan for a Ticket
If you have received a traffic ticket in New York, it can have very serious consequences on your life and your livelihood. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced New York traffic ticket attorney. A knowledgeable and experienced traffic ticket attorney understands this new law and can help you to establish a payment plan, request a reduction in your fines, or challenge your ticket altogether. AutoTrafficTickets.com can help. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!