New York is somewhat notorious for having aggressive or even angry motorists. Especially in areas with high traffic density, drivers may become vocally angry with one another about traffic slowdowns or getting cut off in traffic. Unfortunately, the choices that one person makes in traffic can result in dire implications for others. From those who choose to drive while drunk to those who drive in obviously reckless ways, such as speeding excessively or racing on public roads, there are many people who put others at unnecessary risk of a collision because of their personal habits.
Lawmakers have established numerous restrictions that aim to curtail unsafe driving. The penalties for different traffic infractions exist on a state-by-state basis rather than at the federal level. How does New York rank when compared with other states based on the severity of the penalties imposed for different traffic infractions?
New York is, overall, rather average
To establish which states are the harshest for driving offenses, it is necessary to determine which offenses researchers will review and to compare the consequences imposed by the state for a conviction for one of those offenses. Reckless driving and impaired or drunk driving are among the most dangerous traffic offenses, which means that they often carry the harshest penalties.
According to an analysis of penalties imposed in all 50 states for the most serious traffic offenses, New York is the 20th strictest state for cited motorists. That ranking combines its 41st-place ranking for reckless driving penalties and fifth-place ranking for drunk driving penalties. The discrepancy between the two penalty rankings might stem from the very different nature of the two offenses.
Often claims of reckless driving are somewhat subjective. They involve a police officer inferring a specific intent on the part of a driver. Impaired driving, on the other hand, is easier to objectively establish and prove, which might be one reason why New York lawmakers have imposed some of the harshest penalties in the country depending on the circumstances.
Motorists have the right to a defense
Anyone accused of violating the law can potentially go to court to defend themselves. Those who choose to fight allegations of reckless or drunk driving can avoid fines and licensing penalties if successful, as well as the possibility of incarceration and a criminal record that will show up to embarrass them whenever they apply for a new job.
Realizing that New York can be somewhat harsh toward those accused of serious traffic offenses might inspire someone who has been recently arrested to fight back against their charges and hopefully minimize the penalties they’ll face if they cannot avoid a conviction.