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Denial Exacerbates Traffic Violation Costs

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Westchester, NYCash-strapped state and local governments are feasting on drivers who put traffic fines low on their to-do lists. "The great thing about a traffic ticket from the government's point of view is that traffic tickets are a great source of revenue," says traffic law attorney Casey Raskob. "And they basically add whatever fees they want."

Add to that the human predilection for denial, and what was once "a minor inconvenience is turning into a major budget item" for drivers who are delinquent on everything from parking tickets to fines for speeding, says Raskob.

"No one ever thinks about getting a traffic ticket, and then when they do get a ticket, they go into complete denial. I don't care if you are CEO of a major corporation, a stock broker with two personal assistants or a guy who drives a truck—the response is the same."

The problem is that ignoring tickets costs more than ever. In Raskob's home state of New York, legislators have slowly ratcheted up the costs without much complaint from taxpayers. "These fees are pretty much passed in the dead of night or they do in New York as an addendum to the budget bill—it's lost in a 500-page bill that no one actually reads until after they go through," says Raskob, a 15-year veteran of traffic courts in New Jersey and New York.

New York traffic tickets are at an all-time high, according to Raskob. "In New York they add an $80 surcharge, which is basically a ticket tax. I have watched that tax go from $35 to $55 to $65 to $85. Every time the state or the city needs money they just raise the surcharge.

"I had a client who had five tickets in New York City. He ignored them all. His licence was yanked and he ended up in criminal court for driving while suspended. The only way out of that is to pay the fine, and he ended up having to pay $3300 in fines for the various fines and suspension termination fees. If he had paid immediately it might have cost around $500 to $600."

So what's a driver to do? "I don't see this situation changing anytime soon," says Raskob. "New York is in a budget crisis."

Raskob works to help drivers with pending fines lower costs, minimize points accumulated on their licences and reduce the impact on future insurance costs. He usually advises clients to plead not guilty and fight the tickets.

"Whenever it comes down to raising revenue, the money tail will always wag the traffic safety dog," says Raskob.

Casey Raskob has been a practicing lawyer for 20 years. He spends his days driving from courthouse to courthouse representing clients in traffic court. His office is in Westchester, New York.

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READER COMMENTS

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I retained Mr. Raskob for a 75/55 speeding ticket. He was able to reduce it to a 0 point parking ticket. That was, by far, the best deal a traffic lawyer ever got for me!

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