NY budget sets new surcharges on common speeding ticket plea deals

Governor Cuomo's so-called "fast tax" -- new surcharges imposed on people who plead their speeding tickets down to lesser charges -- appears to be set in the state budget. The budget proposal would set a new, $25 state surcharge on people who plead their speeding tickets down to a common lesser charge called "parking on pavement." It would also increase a similar surcharge for people who plea bargain speeding tickets down to "failure to obey a traffic device" from $80 to $88. Both state surcharges would be added on top of any local fines.

Cuomo's goal was to crack down on traffic accidents caused by excessive speeding. His original proposal would also have assigned more points to the licenses of those convicted of speeding more than 20 mph over the limit, but lawmakers did not pass that part of his plan.

While Cuomo insists the plan is all about traffic safety, opponents of the measure accuse him of trying to sneak a new tax into the budget. It is estimated that the new surcharges will bring $25 million a year into the state's general fund.

Cuomo's budget spokesperson argues that, all too often, traffic judges end up giving speeders a mere slap on the wrist. To help make sure they don't, he announced plans to make sure judges are provided with the driving histories of everyone brought before them on speeding tickets. He did not elaborate on the plan, however.

The state's fiscal year begins on April 1 and, assuming the budget bill passes, the new speeding ticket plea bargain surcharges would go into effect on that date. The final version of the bill was completed in the pre-dawn hours this morning, and deliberations begin tomorrow.

Source: New York Post, "Gov's new 'fast' tax: surcharge on speeders in state budget," Erik Kriss, March 27, 2013

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