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  1. #1
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    Court summons for running a red light

    Okay, so I got pulled over by a police car this morning for running a red light near the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, NYC. It's annoying and irritating, but I did run a red light, and I won't mind paying whatever ticket that would be.

    But here's where it gets a bit complicated. Instead of a ticket, I got a court summons (3 months from now), and the summons read that I've violated Penal Law 240.20-7: Creating hazardous condition (http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article240.htm#p240.20). But I've googled it a bit, and it seems that this is the wrong law to charge me under - it should have been under the Vehicle & Traffic Law 1111D1 (http://www.safeny.ny.gov/trde-vt.htm).

    Do anybody have any good ideas how I go about this? As I said, I won't mind paying whatever fine I deserve - I did break the law. But being charged under Penal Law kind of freaks me out. Should I be worried?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    wow. gee that's a lot of words.

    I wish you the best of luck in court.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by endymion View Post
    Okay, so I got pulled over by a police car this morning for running a red light near the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, NYC. It's annoying and irritating, but I did run a red light, and I won't mind paying whatever ticket that would be.

    But here's where it gets a bit complicated. Instead of a ticket, I got a court summons (3 months from now), and the summons read that I've violated Penal Law 240.20-7: Creating hazardous condition (http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article240.htm#p240.20). But I've googled it a bit, and it seems that this is the wrong law to charge me under - it should have been under the Vehicle & Traffic Law 1111D1 (http://www.safeny.ny.gov/trde-vt.htm).

    Do anybody have any good ideas how I go about this? As I said, I won't mind paying whatever fine I deserve - I did break the law. But being charged under Penal Law kind of freaks me out. Should I be worried?

    Thanks.
    It's possible (not certain) that you are better off, fine wise, with being charged with "creating hazardous condition" law. I believe the fine for red-light running (go check on the web) is about $300 in NYC and (if you drive) would add points to your license and increase your car insurance rates.

    http://law.onecle.com/new-york/penal...20_240.20.html
    http://newyorkcitydefense.com/disord...-new-york.html
    http://www.justanswer.com/law/2e9al-...ast-night.html
    http://forum.freeadvice.com/arrests-...lp-528262.html

    http://newyork.drivinguniversity.com...g-a-red-light/
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-16-13 at 09:52 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    hire a NYC traffic lawyer. it's worth $300 not to let the city screw with you
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    hire a NYC traffic lawyer. it's worth $300 not to let the city screw with you
    No, it's not. Nobody's screwing with you--You admit you ran the light; pay the fine.
    I'm surprised they'd tie up court time with something like this, though. I live in a much smaller city, but around here you can often just plead over the phone and send a check. you might call and ask if there's an alternative to showing up.

  6. #6
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    NYC is a whole other animal. they've installed red light cameras and shortened the yellow light durations. you can't even fight those tickets. they don't care who was behind the wheel, they just want their money. I say fight what you can, and use all means possible.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  7. #7
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    If you didn't disrupt traffic, I would just fight it.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    hire a NYC traffic lawyer. it's worth $300 not to let the city screw with you
    There's a shot it could be dismissed, and a better shot with a lawyer; but OP admits to running the light, so I kind of doubt it. I have a feeling the lawyer might end up costing more than the ticket. FWIW, I was biking around that area last night and noticed an increased police presence, probably because of the awful tragedy in Boston; and the PD has been stepping up enforcement in Williamsburg/Bushwick recently anyway. Just another great reason to be careful riding around here.

  9. #9
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    Look into contesting it via mail(letter) , if the policeman does not offer the court a letter... it gets dismissed.
    The odds are in your favor the cop will not write one. The fine should be the same if you are found guilty.


    But, NYC may not offer this option for residents. It works in most States for out of towners however.

  10. #10
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by endymion View Post
    Okay, so I got pulled over by a police car this morning for running a red light near the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, NYC. It's annoying and irritating, but I did run a red light, and I won't mind paying whatever ticket that would be.

    But here's where it gets a bit complicated. Instead of a ticket, I got a court summons (3 months from now), and the summons read that I've violated Penal Law 240.20-7: Creating hazardous condition (http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article240.htm#p240.20). But I've googled it a bit, and it seems that this is the wrong law to charge me under - it should have been under the Vehicle & Traffic Law 1111D1 (http://www.safeny.ny.gov/trde-vt.htm).

    Do anybody have any good ideas how I go about this? As I said, I won't mind paying whatever fine I deserve - I did break the law. But being charged under Penal Law kind of freaks me out. Should I be worried?

    Thanks.
    Don't know how your law works but I have to wonder whether there's a chance you'll walk if they used the wrong law to charge you. If you can find a friendly lawyer maybe it's worth asking a professional opinion - it may be a legal technicality but you might as well use it to your advantage.

    If you want to accept a "punishment" even if you do get off on a technicality check out what the fine would have been and donate that much to the good cause of your choice. I'll bet you can find a better recipient for the money than the city coffers.
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  11. #11
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    Always fight a ticket. As a cyclist, you must obey traffic lights. Start out with a "trial by declaration". You write up your version, and the cop must also submit his, or you will win by default. Even if you lost, you can request a court trial.

    1. If the cop doesn't show up, then you win.
    2. If there is no nearby vehicles that could result in a traffic collision, then you can claim that the bike is too small to trigger the hall-effect or thermal sensor to generate a green light. Again, this is a judgment call on your part. If the judge does not agree with your call, then you're stuck witht the red light ticket. Say that "I ran the red light, but only after checking for nearby traffic and pedestrian that could result in a traffic collision".

    That said, if the cop shows up, then you'll have to pay the fine. A bike is not a car, so there should not be any point added to your driving record.


    As for the code 240.20...he creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose, I would go to court and say that the bike is not a motorized vehicle (smaller size, lower mass, and slower speed). Therefore, the potential damage/hazardous condition from the bike running the red light is much less than a car. Worst case, the bike is treated like a car, resulting in a red light violation.
    Last edited by furballi; 04-16-13 at 10:30 AM.

  12. #12
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    NYC is a whole other animal. they've installed red light cameras and shortened the yellow light durations. you can't even fight those tickets.
    I believe there are national standards for how long a yellow light must be for a given speed limit. If that length is violated, I think you could successfully fight that ticket.
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  13. #13
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by endymion View Post
    Okay, so I got pulled over by a police car this morning for running a red light near the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, NYC. It's annoying and irritating, but I did run a red light, and I won't mind paying whatever ticket that would be.

    But here's where it gets a bit complicated. Instead of a ticket, I got a court summons (3 months from now), and the summons read that I've violated Penal Law 240.20-7: Creating hazardous condition (http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article240.htm#p240.20). But I've googled it a bit, and it seems that this is the wrong law to charge me under - it should have been under the Vehicle & Traffic Law 1111D1 (http://www.safeny.ny.gov/trde-vt.htm).

    Do anybody have any good ideas how I go about this? As I said, I won't mind paying whatever fine I deserve - I did break the law. But being charged under Penal Law kind of freaks me out. Should I be worried?

    Thanks.
    If you believe you were charged with the wrong crime then you really do need a lawyer.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Over the years I've gone to court to contest just about every traffic ticket I ever got (in motor vehicles), and in every case in four different states I received a reduced penalty, even if guilty. The way it works for traffic tickets can vary considerably across jurisdictions, but just showing up has gotten me lower fines and fewer points. You wind up spending a few hours in court and need to be prepared to speak in front of the court glibly, very courteously, respectfully, not argumentatively and appropriately apologetically when appropriate. Not doing so can be counter productive.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by furballi View Post
    Always fight a ticket. As a cyclist, you must obey traffic lights. Start out with a "trial by declaration". You write up your version, and the cop must also submit his, or you will win by default. Even if you lost, you can request a court trial.

    1. If the cop doesn't show up, then you win.
    This may be true.

    2. If there is no nearby vehicles that could result in a traffic collision, then you can claim that the bike is too small to trigger the hall-effect sensor.
    This won't work. NYC specifically forbids cyclists from running red lights, regardless of the presence/absence of nearby vehicles, and there's a high likelihood that light was on a timer. If the light is really malfunctioning, your legal course of action would be to dismount and walk your bike across the intersection, however silly that might sound.





    As for the code 240.20...he creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose, I would go to court and say that the bike is not a motorized vehicle (smaller size, lower mass, and slower speed). Therefore, the potential damage/hazardous condition from the bike running the red light is much less than a car. Worst case, the bike is treated like a car, resulting in a red light violation.
    In NYC we have the "rights and responsibilities" of motor vehicle operators, under the law, with a couple of specific protections and certain restrictions. Apparently NYPD is giving out these tickets like candy for anything from traffic violations to mouthing off to an officer. The OP may actually be better off with this sort of ticket, especially if he's also a driver, as I don't think this violation would result in any points or insurance problems.

    This is a weird place! They enforce laws in a very spotty, random way that seems to encourage minor infractions. I bet it's a money-making tactic. There's nothing wrong with fighting the ticket or some of the other advice that people have given you, but if it was me, I'd just pay the fine and move on.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Details

    So, to be clear, I'm a Danish (European) citizen living and working in NYC. I'm here on a non-immigrant work visa. And I'd rather just go through this quietly and pay my dues, than risk it just to save some money. That being said, I just want to try to know how to act and what to expect, as I've never tried anything like this before.

    Regarding the episode, I was very civil with the officer and did exactly as I was told, without really speaking a word. Afterwards she thanked me for "being a gentleman about it". I didn't get a fine or ticket on the spot, just a red/pink slip that summons me to court in July.

    But this is what haves me a bit nervous:

    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    That last link says "The maximum penalty for disorderly conduct is 15 days in jail and a fine." How likely is it that this will turn out in anything but a fine?

    Quote Originally Posted by FatherAlabaster View Post
    [...] but if it was me, I'd just pay the fine and move on.
    Which is what I'll most likely just end up doing.

    Thanks for all the quick replys.
    Last edited by endymion; 04-16-13 at 11:48 AM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by endymion View Post
    That last link says "The maximum penalty for disorderly conduct is 15 days in jail and a fine." How likely is it that this will turn out in anything but a fine?
    I'd rate it about 100% that it's just a fine (at the worst).

    Read the links.

    It appears that the strategy is to go and argue (politely/courtesly/respectfully/contritely) for a lesser offence. It appears that the worse thing that will happen is being told "no".

    I suspect that the cop was giving you a break especially if you have a driver's license. (From 2010 data, it appears you might be out $155.)
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-16-13 at 12:27 PM.

  19. #19
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    ^Beat me to it! +1.

    I'm no legal expert, but I'll go out on a limb here and say that there's no way they will put you in jail for running a red light. There's even a chance that they'll dismiss it. I've been in court twice in the past 13 years for bike-related tickets ("riding on the sidewalk"). The first one was complete bunk and got tossed. The second was fair and square, I cooperated, I paid, no big deal. As intimidating and abusive as the legal system here can be, for something like this, politeness and cooperation are your best options. They've always worked well for me. It sounds like you handled it very well.

    BTW -you NEVER have to pay a fine to a police officer on the spot. If anyone asks you to, they're shaking you down.

  20. #20
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    NYC traffic lawyers specialize in helping foreigners who don't know how to navigate "the system". you also don't have to go to court, they take care of everything.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    Read the links.
    Actually did read them (a lot of them turned up in my own research as well), but just wanted to be (more) sure. Will go back and have a look at them again.

    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    It appears that the strategy is to go and argue (politely/courtesly/respectfully/contritely) for a lesser offence. It appears that the worse thing that will happen is being told "no".

    I suspect that the cop was giving you a break especially if you have a driver's license. (From 2010 data, it appears you might be out $155.)
    Quote Originally Posted by FatherAlabaster View Post
    As intimidating and abusive as the legal system here can be, for something like this, politeness and cooperation are your best options. They've always worked well for me. It sounds like you handled it very well.
    Thanks again. That's what I plan to do. If you're right that she was giving me a break, that's great. Just couldn't see that for all the red tape to begin with.

    Quote Originally Posted by FatherAlabaster View Post
    BTW -you NEVER have to pay a fine to a police officer on the spot. If anyone asks you to, they're shaking you down.
    I know, but I was thinking about the actual written ticket, not the payment of it

    Thanks again all for all the great help and assurance.

  22. #22
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    Being Danish will work in your favor in court.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuance View Post
    Being Danish will work in your favor in court.
    Bringing Danish might work in your favor too!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    Bringing Danish might work in your favor too!
    That works fantastic at the LBS! LOL

  25. #25
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    by the way, you're not alone.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXI7170ahNI
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