VTL 1180(a) - “Speed Not Reasonable & Prudent”

Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.

VTL 1180 is the general speeding statute in New York State. Most speeding tickets are issued as 1180(b) or 1180(d). In these tickets, the ticketing officer specifies the speed limit and specifies how fast the motorist was traveling. In the specific sub-statute of 1180(a), the ticketing officer does not have to specify the alleged speed of the motorist. The charge is for driving at an “unreasonable speed”. Simply put, this statute is utilized by officers to issue speeding tickets when they do not know the exact speed of the motorists.

The exact wording of VTL § 1180(a):

No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.

A guilty plea or a conviction to this violation carries a maximum fine of $150 with a mandatory surcharge of $93 (New York City surcharge is $88). The fine can be higher with prior convictions of the same violation. It will automatically put three points on your driving record (judge does not have discretion with points).

The attorneys at the Benjamin Goldman Law Office have handled many hundreds of 1180(a) citations. We have seen this ticket come up in a few different scenarios.

(1) At an accident. The officer appears in response to the call and makes a determination that a motorist involved in the accident was speeding. The officer can’t say the exact speed, so they issue a ticket for 1180(a).

In this scenario, our firm has seen much success in getting these charges dismissed or reduced substantially. From a procedural aspect there are deficiencies in the charging instruments. From a practical aspect the charges are hard to substantiate at trial.

(2) “Roadside Reduction”. In this scenario, the officer clocks a motorist at an exact speed, which exceeds the speed limit. If the officer were to input the exact speed in the ticket, it would result in a 4-point violation or higher. The officer, for whatever reason, gives the motorist a break and issues the lower-level speeding ticket of 1180(a), which carries less points.

Our firm has helped motorists in this scenario as well. We are typically able to obtain for our clients a further reduction, so that they avoid a speeding charge entirely.

(3) “Pile on Ticket.” The vast majority of traffic stops are uneventful. But sometimes they go awry. This happens when the officer is disrespected, the motorist does not pull over right away, or the officer feels the motorist’s driving was exceedingly bad. In this scenario, the officer will issue at least one additional ticket, which often ends up being 1180(a).

In this situation, the ticket should definitely be challenged. Our firm has seen success in obtaining dismissals of tickets issued in this scenario.

If your ticket does not fit into any of these categories, we can still help. Feel free to contact the Benjamin Goldman Law Office to discuss your case. At our firm, consultations are complimentary.

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