New York State Traffic Ticket Points

The holiday speed traps are starting.  If you are caught in the City of Rochester limits, you have almost no chance at a plea bargain.  The suburban courts are different.  You may get a reduction if you have a good record, but rarely can it be done without showing up in court.  The inconvenience yields lots of guilty pleas and fine revenues for the local court.  Ever received a ticket and wonder how many points you might get if you simply plead guilty and pay the fine?  Here is a list of the point values for common traffic infractions:

Points

Offense

 

11

Any violation involving speeding more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit.

 

8

Any violation speeding more than 30 but not more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit.

 

6

Any violation involving speeding more than 20 but not more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.

 

5

Reckless driving; any violation involving overtaking or passing a stopped school bus; and any violation involving the use of a mobile telephone or portable electronic device.

 

4

Any violation involving speeding more than 10 but not more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit; following too closely; and inadequate service brakes, except for such a violation committed by an employed driver during the course of his employment, which shall be 11 Points.

 

3

Any violation involving speed under 20 miles per hour over the speed limit; any violation constituting a failure to yield the right-of-way; any violation involving a railroad crossing, disobeying a traffic control signal or a stop or yield sign; any violation involving improper passing, changing lanes unsafely, driving to left of center of roadway; driving in the wrong direction; leaving the scene of a property damage incident or injury to an animal without reporting; and any violation involving use of safety belts or seats by a child under the age of 16.

 

0

Any violation relating to vehicle registration, licensing or insurance; any violation relating to motor vehicle inspection, vehicle weighs or dimensions or vehicle equipment other than inadequate service brakes; any violation, other than a violation for which suspension or revocation action is mandated upon conviction; any parking violation; any pedestrian or bicycle violation; any violation relating to a business or the sale of goods established in the Vehicle and Traffic Law or any local law; any violation not resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle; and any violation of Section 1110(a) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law relative to the improper use of high occupancy vehicle(HOV) lanes in Suffolk County between Exits 49 and 57 of the Long Island Expressway.

 

Case Study: Improper Incorporation of a Church

A local group had used an accountant to incorporate a new church. The accountant used a corporate formation service to handle the incorporation process. The non-attorney service prepared a certificate of incorporation under not-for-profit law and filed it with the County Clerk. Several years later, as the church was in the process of leasing space in their church to another church group, it was discovered that the church was not anywhere listed as an entity on the State Corporate records.

The accountant and pastor came to our office to research the matter. Upon receipt of the supposed certificate of incorporation, the issue was immediately apparent to Tracy Jong. Churches that have a place of worship in New York must be incorporated under Religious Corporations Law. Although a document was filed at the County Clerk, it would be ineffective to properly incorporate a church. Certificates of Incorporation for a not for profit corporation can only be filed with the Division of Corporations in Albany. If the not-for-profit is a religious corporation, it cannot have a place of worship in New York to use this procedure.

The accountant and pastor were surprised to learn that the County Clerk takes a fee to file a document, but does not pass on its validity as a legal matter. The County Clerk does not have any obligation to advise a filer that a document is improper; its job is only to file and record the document. After operating several years, the church leadership learned they were not legally incorporated. This affected liability of the church leaders and raised issues with the validity of a contract they planned to make. An entity that did not legally exist could not enter a contract.

Our office quickly prepared the necessary paper work to properly incorporate the church and met with the pastor to outline the procedure they would follow over the next 2-3 weeks. The error would be corrected in about 16 days, in time for the lease to proceed. Properly incorporated, the personal liability of church leaders was no longer an issue.

Not for profits can have complex issues and mistakes may not be discovered until there is a crisis. Working with an experienced attorney can help give you peace of mind that you won’t have with a do-it-yourself or internet service provider. Experience matters.

 

Case Study: Improper Not-for-Profit Formation

A local not-for-profit association had been successfully operating for more than two decades. The existing leadership, ready to retire and to transfer the reigns to a new leadership team to carry on their important mission. Our firm was asked what steps would be necessary to elect new officers and directors.

When we reviewed the books and records, we discovered that the not-for-profit was never actually incorporated. Rather, it had been operating (improperly) under a “d/b/a.” The IRS considered it a private foundation so tax exempt status was valid, but there was no protection from personal liability for the directors. With many professionals on the existing and incoming Board (doctors, lawyers and accountants), this was a serious concern. Our office was able to properly incorporate the organization and discontinue the d/b/a of the founder.

We also assisted the charity with changing its name to expand its mission and core functions, allowing it serve more people in the community.

We were able to walk the new leadership through its organizational meeting and provide materials to teach the directors about their fiduciary responsibilities and liabilities as board members for the not for profit corporation.

We also helped the charity to adopt by laws, a mission statement, key policies to preserve the not-for-profit tax exempt status and to successfully operate under the new leadership.

If you have a not for profit corporation, you should have it reviewed and audited periodically to be sure everything is in order and the charity is in compliance with applicable laws  and regulations. If you uncover unforeseen issues, Tracy Jong Law Firm can guide your group through the process of correcting mistakes and bringing you into full compliance.  We can even give your group’s leaders a class to teach them about their responsibilities and liabilities as directors and officers and how to avoid issues of non-compliance with the rules and regulations governing not for profit organizations.

Amazon Rejected by U.S. Supreme Court on N.Y. Sales Tax Dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court stayed out of the multibillion-dollar fight over Internet sales taxes, leaving intact a New York law that forces Amazon.com Inc. to collect sales tax from customers in New York.  The Supreme Court rejected appeals requests by Amazon and Ovestock.com Inc.  This decision levels the playing field between e-commerce and brick and mortar stores.

Many people have preferred internet purchases over the past few years because they save as much as 10% on sales tax.  Sales tax savings often exceed shipping and handling charges.  With many retailers, shipping costs are free with a minimum purchase so the sales tax savings are perceived as a direct “discount”.

Internet retailers have lower overhead, making it hard for brick and mortar stores to compete.  But brick and mortar stores provide jobs and sales tax revenue, benefitting the local community.  Supporting these stores is good business.

The state tax revenues will be significantly impacted by closing this sales tax loophole.  This should help the distressed government entities and local economic climate.

Better Pay Now

We just learned that Rochester is the fifth poorest city in the United States.  The holidays are a time to reflect on the plight of those less fortunate than oneself.  This includes the person on the other side of that cash register as you grab a quick bite while Christmas shopping or attend a holiday party.  Almost 60 percent of U.S. minimum-wage workers are in either food service or sales.  It is no secret that sales clerks at your local Walmart and the staff at your local McDonald’s are low paid workers.  They are often only part-time so the employer doesn’t have to pay insurance and benefits.  Restaurants and retailers like to hire students and retired people because they don’t need insurance and the income is only supplemental so they will work for less than a livable wage.  Many people work in the restaurant industry yet still depend on food stamps and other government subsidies.  Did you know that the inflation-adjusted wages of nonsupervisory workers in the retail trade have fallen almost 30 percent since 1973?

Should we raise the minimum wage?  This is a complicated subject.  Paul Krugman argues “we have a lot of evidence on what happens when you raise the minimum wage.  And the evidence is overwhelmingly positive; hiking the minimum wage has little or no adverse effect on employment, while significantly increasing workers’ earnings.”  “When it comes to the minimum wage, however, we have a number of cases in which a state raised its own minimum wage while a neighboring state did not.  If there were anything to the notion that minimum wage increases have big negative effects on employment, that result should show up in state-to-state comparisons.  It doesn’t.”

Krugman concludes, “A minimum-wage increase would help low-paid workers, with few adverse side effects.  And we’re talking about a lot of people.  Early this year the Economic Policy Institute estimated that an increase in the national minimum wage to $10.10 from its current $7.25 would benefit 30 million workers.  Most would benefit directly, because they are currently earning less than $10.10 an hour, but others would benefit indirectly, because their pay is in effect pegged to the minimum – for example, fast-food store managers who are paid slightly (but only slightly) more than the workers they manage.  In short, raising the minimum wage would help many Americans, and might actually be politically possible.  Let’s give it a try.”

Source:  Better Pay Now, December 1, 2013 New York Times.

Both sides are compelling.  What are your thoughts?

Texting and Driving

New York is among 41 states that ban text messaging for all drivers and is among only 12 that prohibit using hand-held devices, even a GPS has to be hands-free.  This year New York stiffened penalties for motorists caught using hand-held devices to talk or text, increasing penalty points on your driving record from three to five and fines of up to $200.  If you use ear buds for your GPS or music, you must always keep one ear free while driving.

Enforcement is increased as well.  In a two-month crackdown this summer, troopers handed out 5,553 tickets for texting while driving, compared to 924 in the same period last year.  Most of us have wondered if we could get away with texting while driving.  How would they know anyway?  Thirty-two (32) tall and unmarked SUVs help New York State troopers to peer inside your vehicle and see if you are texting while driving.  Troopers are pulling alongside your vehicle to see if you are looking down and whether you have a phone in your hand.  The troopers use CITE vehicles (Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement) for this purpose.

The state also rebranded 91 existing rest areas and turnoffs on the state thruway and other highways as “Texting Zones.”  Signs along the highways read, “It can wait.  Text stop 5 miles.”  There have been other public campaigns designed to address this problem.  Recent television spots have focused on the sender of the text message, urging them not to text others while the recipient is driving.

Do you think these initiatives are having an impact?