Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday DWI Patrols in the Capital Region

Watch out everyone and make sure to have a designated driver or other plan if you will be out drinking this holiday season. Mid-December on into the new year is prime time for DWI patrols and local police as well as State Troopers will be holding several announced, as well as unannounced, traffic stops where they will be checking for intoxicated drivers and other vehicle-related crimes.

In fact, YNN is reporting today that an unannounced DWI patrol was held this past weekend. The stop resulted in approximately 29 arrests and hundreds of stops. These are often held in high-traffic areas in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, & Saratoga. 

Please feel free to call attorney +Law Office of Randall Kehoe  for a free consultation if you do get into any trouble. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Driving Safely: The Role of Airbags

Defensive driving is always the best method of avoiding injuries from an automobile accident. Avoid the accident in the first place, and you don't have to worry about any of the other complications (including lawsuits, insurance claims, finding a loaner car, getting arrested, on and on). Even the best drivers, however, can become involved in an accident caused by someone else's careless driving or other circumstances not under their control. In a case like that, you'll be grateful for modern safety improvements like stability & traction control, blind-spot alerts, and anti-lock brakes,but let's not forget the pioneers seat belts and airbags.

Airbags have been standard equipment in automobiles in the United States for years. The article that follows explains some basic information that you may or many not know about the invention, function, and usefulness of airbags in regards to our safety while driving. Many thanks for Janice Lincoln for providing it for us.

How are airbags activated and how can they improve car safety?

Car airbags have become almost a standard fitment on today's vehicles, yet the nearest most of us get to coming into contact with one is watching the TV footage of them being tested under laboratory conditions.

This, of course, is a good thing, but it's important to appreciate how, in the event of a sudden impact, an airbag can protect us from potential harm.

Airbags were first fitted to a car in the 1950s, but the early variants had limited success, due to them using compressed air, which could not inflate the bag quickly enough to make them effective in a high-speed crash. 

Ex-US Navy industrial engineer John W Hetrick designed the first air cushion which we would recognise as an antecedent of the modern airbag, working in conjunction with many of America's leading car makers, while in Japan, Yasuzaburou Kobori was awarded patents in 14 countries for a design he devised in 1963 – but it had still not been widely applied when he died 12 years later.

The airbag requires some form of detonation in order for it to be able to release the gas which fills the bag and thereby protects a car's occupants from hitting any of the hard components on its dashboard.

This explosion is triggered when electronic sensors in the car detect that it is slowing down at at least a minimum rate. These sensors activate a switch, which then completes an electrical circuit, and in turn sets off an explosion inside the airbag, causing it to inflate. In essence, it is like a sudden shock which causes the detonation of a bomb.

The explosion causes the airbag to be very quickly filled with nitrogen, which inflates it at such pressure that it breaks out from the compartment in which it is housed and protects the part of the occupant's body which it is intended to shield.

The exterior of an airbag is made of a fabric similar to nylon, which, by all reports, has quite an abrasive surface. This is caused by the hundreds of tiny ventilation holes in the bag, which serve to let the bag deflate quickly after it has been deployed and done its job.

The gas in the airbag simply escapes through these holes, and it deflates slowly once it has provided the cushioning effect which is needed to help prevent injury.

The positioning of airbags is carefully designed to be the optimum for protecting parts of the body where the car occupant's bones are at greatest risk of being broken through coming into contact with the hard surfaces and components of the vehicle's interior.

Therefore, airbags have been developed to protect many areas inside a car, and today are commonly fitted at head or chest level directly in front of each passenger, in the door sills so that they can deploy in the event of a side impact, to the car's B-pillars (the vertical strip which runs between the front and rear doors), and in the roof lining so that they descend to provide protection for the heads of the vehicle's occupants.

Many people are surprised that airbags will be activated at relatively low speeds, but it is the case that many minor injuries are prevented by the use of these bags, simply because greater injuries are often caused by a car's occupants coming into contact with interior fittings of a car than by the impact of the car with another object itself.

This guest blog was contributed by Janice Lincoln a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all things automotive including where to find the best car finance for bad credit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to get a warning, not a ticket (New York version)

This weekend, Mr. Kehoe read an MSN article with this same title (minus the New York reference, of course). It was only marginally helpful and was obviously produced to sell insurance-related ads as it mentions the word "insurance" 40 times and seems to only glance the supposed topic of the article instead of being a useful resource on the topic. It was helpful, however, in the sense that it inspired us to write our own article in which we hopefully do a better job of explaining how to get a warning, instead of a ticket, when you get pulled over in New York.

Our office has been taking Vehicle & Traffic law cases for over 22 years. We are based in downtown Albany but represent clients in courts throughout almost the entire state of New York - from the mid Hudson Valley counties all the way north to Plattsburgh and the Canadian border. On the east, we go to the Massachusetts border and west to Chautauqua County. We have handled thousands of cases and listened to the accounts of thousands more motorists who have been pulled over for violating local traffic laws. We have argued and negotiated with the very State Troopers and other law enforcement agents who are responsible for prosecuting these cases. I mention this not as a bragging point, but to give some idea of our credibility regarding what I'm about to explain.

Like the MSN article says, the officer has full discretion to issue a warning and send you on your way OR to write the ticket, but there are several factors that may be considered and eventually determine what happens.

Why You Are Being Stopped

If you are pulled over for making a right-hand turn without signaling, you are much more likely to get a break than someone street racing at 100+mph in a school zone. Vehicle & Traffic laws (which include speeding and signaling) are put in place to provide order and safety to everyone on the road. If you are caught doing something that is particularly egregious or puts other people in danger, law enforcement officers are not going to be amused. In our experience, these public servants take their jobs very seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute to the full extent of the law, especially when it involves someone who appears to have no regard for the law or its officials. This brings us to our next point.

Your Attitude & Excuses

Don't tell the officer that you have a meeting to attend, are late to a funeral, or are just trying to get to the next exit to find a bathroom. They've heard it all. Even if it is true, stop for a minute and think about how many excuses and outright lies these officers hear every single day. Most Troopers appreciate a good attitude and some good old-fashioned honesty. They are not in the business of issuing false tickets (although it does happen) and they are not just there to collect revenue (although that may be part of it). Either way, when you get pulled over, the brief moment you have to interact with the officer at the window is not the time to "put up your dukes" and start a crusade against the Vehicle & Traffic laws. If you got caught, accept your ticket and learn about the great system New York state has for reducing or waiving your charges. If you want a fight, save it for later and hire a lawyer. If you want a warning, keep your self-righteous attitude and excuses to yourself. Officers are much more likely to give warnings to citizens that are cooperative, courteous, and in some cases, candid.

Your Driving History

It may be somewhat of a Catch 22, but if you already have a clean driving history you are more likely to keep it that way. Drivers with no points have an easier time securing reductions on their tickets and qualifying for diversion programs that provide for outright dismissal of charges. In fact, many Traffic Diversion Programs require you to have no speeding ticket convictions in the past 18 months in order to even qualify.  When you get pulled over, the officer can do a quick search of your driving history - and may do so before you're even stopped. If your license is suspended, if you have recently plead guilty to a traffic offense (especially if it was the same law for which you are being pulled over), or if you already have points, you are much less likely to get a warning. A bad driving history says that you are a problematic driver, putting people in danger and/or disregarding state traffic law. If that seems like the case, don't count on getting a break.

No Luck With a Warning? There is Still Hope

Fortunately, even if you don't get a warning you can still probably get a reduction or even have your ticket dismissed. New York state requires that you answer your ticket with a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty before any penalties like fines and points are assigned. In most cases, you can hire an attorney to apply for a reduction of your charges and save a ton of money and keep your driving history clean. Some counties, like Broome and Livingston, have Traffic Diversion programs. These programs will guarantee a dismissal of your charges if you complete the requirements (and can qualify). Most require you to pay a fee and take a defensive driving course.

Remember, if you feel that you are not guilty of the charges entered against you, you have the right to demand a trial. You will be able to face your accuser and testify before the judge that you were not speeding. When attending court, be sure to dress appropriately and be respectful. Your attorney should be able to advise you on everything else. If you're still shopping attorneys, feel free to contact us. We'll be happy to take a few minutes to get to know your case and give you an honest quote and evaluation.

Friday, November 2, 2012

On Appearance Tickets in the Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer Areas:

By and large, when you hire us (or any lawyer) for a traffic ticket case in the Capital Area, we do not have to physically appear in court. This comes as a big surprise to many clients, but it's how the legal system works in New York state - and with good reason. Just imagine if every client or counselor had to appear before a judge for every traffic violation that was contested. Existing courts could run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there would still not be enough time to hear each case. Fortunately, there are policies in place to allow attorneys to appear by mail, fax, or postal mail (depending on the policies of the court), and only in particular cases do we really have to make a trip to the court. It's all a part of what's called judicial economy and usually works out to everyone's advantage while maintaining the rule of law.

When a physical appearance is required by the court either of the client, their attorney, or both, it will usually be on more serious charges like reckless driving, very high speeds, U.P.M. (Unlawful Possession of Marijuana), Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (A.U.O.), Logbook Violations, and other criminal misdemeanors. Some local courts also require personal appearances on certain offenses that most courts do not. The Bethlehem Town Court (in Delmar), for example, requires an appearance on all speeding charges of 85mph or higher and 1144-a Move Over tickets. In the greater Albany Area, only the Ravena Village Court and Coeymans Justice Court require appearances on all Vehicle & Traffic cases.

I hope that helps to clear up a very common misconception about litigating traffic violations in our area, although the same idea applies statewide.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Should The "Meningitis Outbreak" Be Declared A Federal Emergency?

While we usually like to keep the discussion here limited to Vehicle & Traffic law, the recent meningitis scare is a hot topic that is receiving a lot of attention on the national level and something we would like to briefly mention here in case you or a loved one has been affected. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has not yet identified any victims from in New York state, but the contaminated meningitis that was produced in the NECC (New England Compounding Center) facility in Massachusetts has been identified as the cause of death of 15 people in other states. As of today, 233 total cases have been identified around the country, with the highest occurrences in Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, and Florida. You can view a map showing cases and deaths by state here.

So far, it has been determined that patients have been infected through a contaminated steroid injection via epidural (spinal tap) or to joints in the knee, shoulder, or ankle and have suffered fungal infections and stroke. Currently, the NECC has issued a voluntary recall on all its products and the FDA has published a list of them here. If you have received any kind of steroid injection recently, you may want to contact your physician or the hospital where it was administered to find out the manufacturer name. If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. These treatments were typically administered to patients for back and joint pain, or after eye surgery.

The FDA is estimating that thousands of people could potentially be infected, but the whole situation is still under investigation. Some make the case that the situation should be labelled a National Public Health Emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act. Whether more Federal intervention is necessary at this time is yet to be seen, but there are already claims of various violations drug-manufacturer guidelines. According to CNN, at least one lawsuit has already been filed against NECC and there are surely more to follow. If you are the victim of an injury or wrongful death related to the meningitis outbreak, please always feel free to contact our office, as we also handle personal injury lawsuit claims in New York state.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Stop Running Red Lights On Quail Street!

Is it just me or do the traffic lights in Albany switch a little too quickly? I can't count the number of times I've been headed up or down Madison Ave. and watched someone speed across the intersection while my light was turning green. This usually happens, of course, as the intersecting street's traffic light goes from yellow to red and drivers who are either going too fast to slow down in time or just want to make the light don't make it in time. In my opinion, people speeding up to beat the red light make up the majority of the problem. I say this because you can usually hear their engine rev as they step on the gas at the last second. It's a dangerous situation and I'm surprised I haven't witnessed more car accidents - although they do happen. 

Maybe I just seem to notice the problem more in this area, but this always seems to happen where Quail St. crosses Madison. I consider it good driving practice to brake early and just sit out the red light no matter where you are, but I think this is particularly important around the Quail St. intersection. People will always try to beat the red light. It seems to be a nationwide phenomenon. In general, though, it seems a lot of the traffic lights in the City of Albany could use a little more wait time to help keep any of these last-dash drivers from colliding with other cars coming across the intersection on a green light. 

 Running a red light (VTL 1111 - Passed Red Light) is only a 3 point violation (the same as speeding 1-10mph over the speed limit). Although you and I witness it all the time, here at the Law Office of Randall E. Kehoe, we hardly ever get calls for these types of tickets but speeding remains one of the most common violations. You and I will probably agree that passing a red light at an intersection is far more dangerous than driving a little faster than the posted speed limit. Attorney Warren Redlich makes some good points about some of the shortcomings of New York's point system on his blog.

Whatever your opinion may be on this topic, remember that the vehicle you operate likely weighs well over 3,000 lbs. At any speed, these can turn into dangerous weapons causing irreversible, serious injury or even take a life. As annoying as it may be to wait an extra 30 seconds at a red light, remember that the Vehicle & Traffic laws have been established to maintain order among the millions of relatively inexperienced drivers on the road every day. If courtesy and common consideration are not enough motivation for you, local officers and State Troopers are on the patrol every day in every municipality in New York state, ready and waiting to issue a ticket or arrest. Rules are strict and penalties are steep in our state with a difficult point system and high fines and special assessment fees. If you do get into trouble, let us know, even if it is for passing a red light. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Speed Limit Change on Washington Ave. (Albany)

Construction on the Washington Avenue bridge in Albany (near Patroon Creek Blvd.) recently finished and workers were re-posting speed limit signs this morning. I didn't take a picture, but I did notice that on Washington Ave., headed West towards SUNY and Crossgates, the 45mph zone has started a little bit earlier than where it was previously. The 35mph zone remains in the same place headed Eastbound. 

It's a nice little development as that 35 zone seemed to extend a little too long into that stretch of Washington. If anyone has a photo, please feel free to post a link here or send us a copy. Thanks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Resource: Traffic Laws by State

This is a good little resource by John Carr with links to Vehicle & Traffic laws by state. You can also find information about the Points Systems, driver's license manuals, and other related topics by state. Overall a very helpful page that is a good start if you are researching this type of material. 

Thanks John!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Work Zone Speeding Ticket Patrol Begins Today

The New York State Thruway Authority has announced the beginning of "Operation Work Brake", a week-long campaign to promote safety in Work Zones. A special group of New York State Troopers, that issued nearly 1,500 tickets during this year's "Speed Week", will be helping enforce speed limits in construction zones along the Thruway:

"Throughout the enforcement period, Troop T will be out in full force patrolling the highway, as well as monitoring construction zones," said State Police Troop T Commander Major Robert C. Meyers. "Safety is Troop T's number one priority. We ask motorists do their part by using caution while driving through the construction zones. Remember, traffic fines are double in work zones. Motorists who speed; drive distracted or are simply careless when traveling in a work zone pose a great safety risk to highway workers and other drivers. There is no excuse for that type of driving."

 There are several work zones currently in the Albany area, most notably on I-787 in downtown Albany and the Menands area. Fuller Road has also been under construction. If get a Work Zone speeding ticket in the Albany City Court, Menands Village Court, or other local traffic court, please contact our office for help.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Operation Hang Up - Part 2: April 23-29, 2012

Last November, New York's Governor's Traffic Safety Committee initiated "Operation Hang Up", a campaign targeting motorists operating a cell phone or other mobile device while driving. Over the Thanksgiving weekend 2011, over 800 tickets were issued for distracted driving and the traffic violation was promoted to a 3 point violation (previously 2 points). This week, beginning Monday April 23 through Sunday 29, 2012, NY State Troopers will be enforcing Part 2 of Operation Hang Up as Governor Cuomo tries to send the message about the dangers of distracted driving:

Operation Hang Up is designed to send a strong message to motorists across New York State that driving and using a hand-held device simply do not mix. We hear too many heartbreaking stories about how distracted driving leads to tragic consequences, and we must do everything in our power to ensure more lives are not unnecessarily lost because someone took their eyes off the road to use a phone. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed more than 3,000 deaths nationwide last year to distracted driving. This year alone, over 65,000 tickets have been issued in New York state for distracted driving which is now a primary offense. This means you can be pulled over for distracted driving alone whereas, last year, you could be ticketed for distracted driving but only if you were pulled over for speeding or another violation in the first place.

We always hope you are careful and considerate while driving, but we expect many, many calls in the next few weeks for driver's seeking representation in the most active regions. You can view total numbers of tickets issued by county on the Governor's website. You'll see that Albany and New York are among the worst offenders.

If you get a ticket for distracted driving anywhere in the Upstate area or Hudson Valley this weekend, please give us a call for assistance. (518) 465-2211.

Monday, April 16, 2012

CA Professor Beats Traffic Ticket With Math

This story has gotten a lot of buzz lately, especially after being featured on Yahoo's home page. If you haven't already read about it, it's a fun story about a University of California Physics professor using mathematical equations to dispute the validity of the stop sign ticket he received. The paper is available on the Cornell University Libary website if, for some reason, you want to take a look. But don't count on using this as a template for the next time you get a speeding ticket or other VTL citation. Remember, that there is no excuse for exceeding the speed limit in New York state unless you are in an authorized emergency vehicle with the appropriate lights.

If you feel you were ticketed falsely and have proof, you can go to the court on your scheduled pretrial or trial date to face your accuser and/or the prosecuting attorney. Remember,  however, that the town, city, or village where you will answer your ticket rely on local law enforcement and State Troopers to protect the citizens of their jurisdictions and uphold the law. They generally trust their judgment and integrity.  So, if it's possible that you really are guilty, the best way to approach your case may be to seek a plea bargain reduction. Most courts in New York state are willing to grant consideration to good drivers who seek a reduction. This can be an easy way to save a lot of time, money, and stress.  If you come to fight and question the integrity or character of local law enforcement, they will be ready to affirm the accuracy of the traffic stop and attest to the level of their expertise and experience. Looking for a fight when you really were breaking the law, regardless of the reason, is usually not a good idea.

If you need an experienced trial lawyer for a traffic ticket case in New York state, feel free to contact attorney Randall Kehoe's office. He has been representing clients for over 20 years from serious murder trials in the Appellate Division to traffic trials in local courts.  You can also contact us to discuss your options of reducing charges (and thereby fines and points) by plea bargain. This method can save you a trip to court and a lot of money in fines, Assessment Fees, and insurance prices. It can also help to keep your driving history clean of serious convictions in case you get stopped again in the future.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New York Speeding Tickets: How Much Do They Cost???

**UPDATE: NySpeedingTicketFines.com has posted a Fine Chart that shows fine ranges and points for many New York VTL violations and misdemeanors.**

Even drivers who have lived in New York state their entire lives are confused when they see no fine amount in dollars and cents on their ticket. We get calls every day that start something like this:
"Hi, I just got a ticket in Albany (or whatever local court) but it doesn't say how much I have to pay ... can you tell me how much the fine will be ?" 
The answer to this question is not very simple and can be difficult to explain, as fines are not assessed until the accused driver is convicted of a particular offense and the amount of the fine will depend on the violation or misdemeanor conviction entered in the local court. If that doesn't clear anything up, an article at NySpeedingTicketFines.com does a good job, I think, of explaining that the price you pay for a speeding ticket depends on a number of factors.  So, if you recently got a speeding ticket or some other traffic ticket in New York state and are pulling your hair out trying to figure out what to do, this will hopefully clear up some of the questions you have.

Photo credit: mas abie

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


This one is an oldie but a goodie with some useful comparison charts. Keep in mind fines quoted are from 2008 and have increased in many cases since. Also, there will be no reference to new laws like the 1144a "Move Over" law (FLD TO MOVE TO OPEN LANE TO EMERG VEHICLE), a 3 point violation, as well as cell phone (OP MOBILE PHONE), and electronic device. Otherwise, it is a very interesting look into how fines for traffic violations like speeding compare across these neighboring states as well as what penalties are assessed.

One interesting point, and something that most people don't realize, is that speeding even 11mph over the posted speed limit is punishable by 15 days in prison! Maybe one good reason to hire a lawyer.

To see realistic fine amounts for speeding convictions and reductions to 1201a and other generic violations. in New York courts, visit our resource at NY Speeding Ticket Fines.

Friday, January 13, 2012

1144a "Move Over" Law Updated

As of January 1, 2012 the Ambrose-Searles "Move Over" Law (section 1144a of NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law) has been updated to include tow and service vehicle operators and other maintenance workers stopped along roadways while performing their duties.

New York's Division of State Police have a statement about the changes on their website along with a downloadable brochure linked to below. The 1144a is still punishable by a fine and 3 points. 

1144a Brochure (.pdf)