Disobeying Traffic Device
Disobeying a traffic device, VTL 1110(a), is among the most common tickets written in New York City. The City is laden with a veritable booby trap of "traffic devices."
So What Exactly Is A Traffic Device?
A traffic device is any sign, posted lawfully, that instructs motorists to perform or not perform a specific maneuver. Most traffic device violations result from the motorist disobeying a sign that prohibits turns or a pavement marking that requires the motorist to proceed straight or make a turn. Other traffic devices include:
*"Do Not Enter" or "One Way" signs -- although this violation is more precisely cited under VTL §1127.
*Double yellow lines separating different directions of a traffic. As a general matter, motorists are permitted to make U-turns unless a sign specifically forbids them. Crossing the double yellow lines is only a violation if the motorist does so to unlawfully pass vehicles traveling in his direction of travel, or if he simply drives on the wrong side of the road, although this violation is more precisely issued under VTL §1212 . Note that some U-turns in New York City are prohibited by the City's traffic code, which makes unlawful U-turns in a business district; this is defined as any area with 300 square feet of businesses fronting the road where the U-turn occurred.
Construed broadly, VTL 1110(a) can be applied to a number of infractions. A red light is a traffic device, for example. So is a speed limit sign or a stop sign. It's no wonder that this section of law is a "go-to" for many police officers when they want to write you a ticket.
An Attorney Can Use The Law To Your Advantage In Defending Your Traffic Device Ticket.
As you can infer from the legal language above, there is much nuance to disobeying traffic device violations. Police officers often use this as a default violation when they do not know a more specific statute to apply. A favorable judge may dismiss a charge that is imprecise.
Moreover, the state has the burden in describing the traffic device (such as its location, its specific prohibitions, and any potential exceptions to those prohibitions) and the motorist's action in disobeying the device. He cannot simply say "the motorist went through the stop sign" or "the motorist disobeyed the traffic device." Your attorney will jump on legal omissions made by the police officer or prosecutor, and use them to dismiss your ticket.
The Most Commonly Written Tickets in NYC Are Traffic Devices. Look out for These Spots.
NYPD traffic enforcement targets a number of traffic devices in the City. For example:
*Eastbound traffic on Grand cannot turn either direction onto Bowery, as indicated by four signs that say "No Turns."
*Westbound traffic on 37th Street must turn onto Second Avenue southbound on weekdays between 7-10 in the morning, with the exception of buses. There are two detailed, complicated signs on the east side of the intersection directing drivers to turn left in these hours, but many motorists do not see or do not comprehend the signs in time to obey them.
*Southbound traffic on Union Square West cannot turn left on 14th Street. As this is not a through street, all cars must turn right at this location.
There are too many other locations to list them all, of course. In short: if you are driving in the City, be very observant. Some of these signs, even if clearly posted, can sneak up on an unaware driver. If you do get a ticket for disobeying a traffic device, consider contacting an attorney to discuss the matter.
Don't Do It Alone. Talk to an Attorney.