It is common to believe that when a police officer hands you a traffic ticket, you have no recourse to dispute it. All that is left is to pay the ticket and move on. However, that is not the case at all. Not only do you have the right in New York to contest your ticket in a traffic hearing, but you can also bring witnesses with you to testify on your behalf.

If you decide to contest your traffic ticket, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles explains that you will appear before a traffic hearing, which will be presided over by a DMV Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Just as with any criminal trial, you are considered innocent unless and until the ALJ has determined guilt based upon the evidence and facts presented at the hearing. And as with a criminal trial, you have the right of representation by legal counsel.

If the police officer who gave you the ticket chooses to appear, the ALJ will listen to the testimony of the officer. However, you may bring your own witnesses who can testify on your behalf. An ALJ retains the option of questioning your witnesses to seek clarification of their testimony. You and your attorney also have the right to ask questions of the police officer who gave you the ticket.

You might feel nervous about testifying yourself. Fortunately, while personal testimony is an option, it is not a requirement. You may elect not to testify and instead allow others to speak for you. If you fear that your refusal to testify will cost you the case, you should know that a judge cannot find you guilty of a traffic violation simply because you do not wish to testify.

Your evidence is not limited to bringing in witnesses. You are also free to present written evidence that supports your case. In the end, the ALJ will have to decide if “clear and convincing evidence” exists that you violated a traffic law. If not, the ALJ will find you not guilty. If you are convicted, fines and driving suspensions may result, depending on the traffic law that was violated.

Since you have a chance to contest a traffic ticket, speaking with an attorney can be beneficial. You may understand your options under the law and can plan your next move. Be aware that this article is written as information, not as actionable legal advice.