I received a traffic ticket in New York City for driving without a seatbelt. The penalty for the violation is $130, which I discovered includes a $20 "crime victim assistance fee", and a mandatory surcharge of $60. The actual fine for the infraction is $50.
I believe that the Traffic Violations Bureau in New York is operating contrary to the law by increasing the penalty for most types of traffic violations, in cases where no appeal or court challenge is involved, by adding this additional fee and surcharge to the civil fine for the infraction. I have copied below the relevant portions of the law that I think is being violated. In a nutshell, my reading of the law is that this additional fee and surcharge is permissible only when a traffic conviction results from a "proceeding in an administrative tribunal or court." I assert that if I simply plead guilty and pay the penalty, without challenging the ticket in any court or "administrative tribunal", no such proceeding is involved and therefore the TVB is not justified in imposing this additional fee and surcharge. But apparently they see it differently, and believe that they are compelled to collect this fee and surcharge in every case, even when someone pleads guilty and pays the penalty without involving any appeals tribunal or court.
I pled guilty online and paid the $130, and then appealed just the penalty to the New York Traffic Violations Bureau, but lost. Next step would be to go to New York State Supreme Court with an "Article 78" challenge, but that involves several hundred dollars in filing fees.
Would anyone like to offer an opinion as to whether the NY TVB can legally add these fees and surcharges to every ticket, even when someone just pays the penalty without involving any appeals tribunals or courts? And if so, what is the justification?
Here are the relevant portions of the law.
Title 15, Chapter I, Subchapter I, Part 123.4 (c) of the Codes, Rules, and Regulations of the State of New York states "In addition to the fine specified in subdivision (a) of this section, a plea of guilty by mail or in person must be accompanied by a mandatory surcharge where required by the provisions of, and in the amount specified in, section 1809 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law or any other applicable statute."
Section 1809 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws states:
"Whenever proceedings in an administrative tribunal or a court of this state result in a conviction for a traffic infraction pursuant to article nine of this chapter, there shall be levied a crime victim assistance fee in the amount of five dollars and a mandatory surcharge, in addition to any sentence required or permitted by law, in the amount of twenty-five dollars."