Most everyone knows the slogan “click it or ticket.” Getting a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt may seem like a minor infraction but could in fact come back to haunt you down the road, no pun intended.
In New York, a seatbelt infraction does not carry any points but does impose a fine. It also appears on the guilty party’s driving record. By appearing on a driver’s record, it can have an adverse effect when attempting to plea to a reduced charge in the future to a speeding violation or failure to obey a traffic device. These infractions carry points as well as fines.
Now here is where ignoring a seat belt ticket can come back to bite you. Let’s say one is ticketed for not wearing their seatbelt and instead of attempting to show up for court and requesting a reduction in the charges, the individual simply mails in the ticket pleading guilty and pays the fine accordingly. This is all well and good, but now the seatbelt violation will show up on a driver’s abstract, which is a history of that person’s driving record. If the individual gets a speeding ticket in the future and attempts to plea to a reduction, such as parking on pavement, which carries no points, the ADA or local prosecutor will take a look at the abstract, see the seatbelt violation and assume that they were pulled over previously for speeding and the police officer gave them a break and issued a ticket for a seatbelt violation instead of the speed. Now keep in mind, this scenario does not always occur and in theory, prosecutors are never to “assume” anything. However, the reality is that a seatbelt violation on a driver’s abstract often sends up a red flag, even though on its face it is not as serious of a violation as a speed or other type of moving violation.
When faced with a seatbelt charge, a smart thing to do is plead not guilty and request for a reduction to a charge of parking on pavement. As stated earlier, this is a non moving infraction that carries no points to one’s license. More importantly, a parking on pavement charge doesn’t appear on a driver’s abstract. The guilty party simply pays the fine and it is never seen again. The extra time and effort will truly pay off down the road, pun now intended, if encountered with more severe charges.