We all know that cops do not often hand out jaywalking tickets. However, if you are unlucky enough to run into a cop that decides this is the day to hand out a ticket, then you will need to know how to fight it.
The thing is, jaywalking tickets are so rare that no one knows what the laws actually are. Googling "New York Jaywalking Laws" gives you articles about Rudy Giulianni and Jewish Rabbis. After digging through the state code, this should help you on your day in court.
If you crossed the street outside of a crosswalk, New York State Law requires you to yield to automobile traffic. It is as simple as that. Basically, you are recreating Frogger in person.
If you were in a crosswalk without traffic control lights, pedestrians have the right of way over cars. That being said, you are prohibited from darting out into traffic and in front of cars that cannot stop safely.
Otherwise, if you give them enough time to stop, you may proceed at will. They must stop and other cars are not allowed to pass them.
If you were in a crosswalk with control lights and still jaywalked against a “Don’t Walk” or red hand signal, was the light functional? Odds are, it was working fine. Though jaywalking is inherently a part of being a New Yorker, especially in Manhattan, it is actually illegal to cross against a “Don’t Walk” sign. However, if it was broken, you have the right of way and cars have to stop for you.
There is also something we could call the Orthodox Jewish defense. If you are jaywalking on Friday and stricly observe Shabbat, pressing the crosswalk button is prohibited. According to a report by CBS New York, so is carrying keys, ID, etc. Tell that to the judge, and he’ll hopefully be more understanding than the cop who wrote the ticket.
Finally, if all else fails, delay may work in your favor. Some people have found that scheduling your court hearing a truly inconvenient time can be useful. The odds of an officer showing up to a hearing six months later on a Wednesday at 7 a.m. could be a bit lower. This is especially true for a low on the priority-list jaywalking ticket.
What do you do if the officer shows up? If you have none of the above defenses to jaywalking, try to negotiate with the judge for a lesser amount. Ask nicely, see what happens. Good luck.
This post is part of FindLaw’s Legal U series. We are working to help you learn what to do in your city to cope with some of the legal problems, questions, or issues that come up in daily life. Please come back to learn more from future posts in this series.
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- Where Do You Have To Go To Get A Jaywalking Ticket Around Here? (FindLaw’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- Jaywalking (LawBrain)
- Las Vegas Girl in Coma Ticketed for Jaywalking (FindLaw’s Legally Weird Blog)