After I posted my last blog, entitled, How Should I Handle My NY Traffic Violation Ticket When I Was Injured In a Car Accident, fellow New York personal injury lawyer Christina Sonsire, of the Ziff Law Firm in Elmira, New York, emailed me. She formerly worked as an assistant district attorney, so she knows criminal law, whereas I, admittedly, do not. Christina, a fine New York personal injury and medical malpractice attorney, brought to my attention that my advice might have been a bit misguided. She informed me that, at least in some counties in New York, not showing up for a traffic violation trial might not result in a conviction, but rather the judge will “scoff” you, which could be worse than a mere conviction. To quote, Christina:
“Instead, the court will scoff her license when she does not show. The scoff will result in a suspension of her driver’s license, setting her up for a misdemeanor if she drives and is caught”.
In the case I blogged about, the accused doesn’t drive, so she need not worry about this. But as a general matter, I don’t think it is a good idea to “scoff” a judge! Therefore, my advice to an injured victim of a car accident who is contemplating a claim against a negligent driver, but who was also ticketed for a traffic violation related to the car accident, would probably be to show up for traffic court trial and “take the fifth” (refuse to testify)! That way you don’t “scoff” the judge by failing to appear, you don’t plead guilty to a violation (which could hurt your personal injury case) and you don’t give testimony which could come back to haunt you in your personal injury case. Instead, you are merely convicted of a traffic violation. And that won’t be admissible as evidence in your personal injury case. Although paying the fine, and taking the points on your license, might hurt, it might be worth the price of preserving your personal injury case intact, especially if you are very hurt.
Thanks for setting me straight Christina!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.