Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Governor Cuomo has proposed a new limit on plea bargains if you’re caught speeding by more than 20mph. The governor pitched the idea in his budget memo this week, hoping to raise revenues for the state.
“For those that speed, get ready to pay more,” said Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. "There are many ways the governor is looking at right now to fill some of these holes where revenue is just going right out the window."
The governor's traffic plans would add $58 million in state revenues. Attorney Donald Kelly says that's because the state benefits from more serious offenses, like speeding.
"Having cases reduced down to parking tickets...there is no surcharge there for the state to collect their little piece of the pie and the municipalities get to keep that money and use it for municipality purposes, including keeping property taxes down,” Kelly explained.
Drivers assigned six points on their license within 18-months are required to pay additional fees to the state. The practice of reducing speeding tickets is not uncommon. County District Attorneys can take many factors into consideration, unless Cuomo gets his way.
Tow truck operator Dale McConnell supports the idea, hoping it would hold drivers accountable.
"I don't think they should be able to plea down. They shouldn't be out there speeding. The accidents, I see it on a daily basis. I go to them. If they were doing the speed limit, accidents wouldn't happen,” said tow truck operator Dale McConnell.
Roman Diamond doesn’t agree with the governor's plan. He told NewsChannel 9, "People get pulled over sometimes and they might not be speeding. There may have been a discrepancy there. How are we going to know if there was or there wasn't? I think the system in place right now is great."
Kelly believes Cuomo's idea would create a backlog in courts if more speeding cases go to trial, possibly requiring more workers and more judges.
"The municipalities would suddenly have to fund all this work, overtime for police officers, who would be called in to testify, in cases where they ordinarily would not be, would be suffered by the municipalities while the state is reaping the benefit,” Kelly said.
I think certainty in some of the resolutions of these cases [would be] much quicker, much speedier, and much more cost effective for some of these localities," Lt. Governor Duffy argued. "If you know what you are going to spend and know what you are going to pay in a fine, I think it is much better to have certainty as opposed to a 'let's make a deal' process."
The proposal would impose an $80 state surcharge even when speeding tickets are reduced to parking violations and it would potentially allow district attorneys to see a driver’s prior plea bargains. First, the idea has to get through a long budget battle in Albany.