In the 5 boroughs of New York City, the DMV’s Traffic Violation Bureau (TVB) processes tickets for non-criminal moving traffic violations. The TVB does not plea-bargain traffic violations. Therefore, if you are issued a traffic ticket within the 5 boroughs and want to fight it, you must plead not guilty and await your scheduled hearing.
In order to be found guilty at your hearing, a judge must conclude that the officer made his case by clear and convincing evidence. That is, there are a number of elements a police officer must address in his direct testimony in order for you to be found guilty of your traffic infraction. If the officer does not address each element and the defense spots the missing element, the defense can move for a dismissal.
If, however, the officer addresses each and every element associated with the violation, it is very hard to be found not guilty. Even if you adamantly deny having committed the infraction, the judge usually sides with the officer.
An experienced attorney knows what elements are associated with each moving violation and knows when to move for a dismissal. Non lawyers rarely win cases where the cop appears and testifies.
Traffic tickets issued outside of New York City are processed in the criminal or traffic court of the city, county, town or village where the alleged offense took place. In these cases, plea-bargaining is generally allowed and the advice an attorney gives you regarding how to handle a traffic ticket in these locations should differ from advice issued for a TVB ticket.