Following Too Closely (Tailgating) NYS VTL § 1129a

The law does not have much to say about Following Too Closely traffic ticket violation (more commonly known as “tailgating”). But, this small traffic ticket have can have big consequences. The first to do is see what the law recognizes as Following Too Closely, VTL section 1129a.

The Law and Its Exception

Tailgating is different than other traffic violations, like running a red light, because most drivers know the meaning of those violations without having to consult the law. Following Too Closely, however, is more ambiguous and so is its legal definition.

The law says that a driver cannot follow another car closer than what is “reasonable and prudent” given the speed of other cars, traffic and road conditions.

The legal definition of this offense will leave many drivers scratching their head wondering whether or not they were tailgating or driving too closely. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer. The answer to that question is solely based on the facts and circumstances of the traffic stop/violation.

This unclear definition also creates more questions than answers: What is reasonable and prudent? How many other cars have to be on the road? Or what type of road conditions matter? The absence of a more precise definition creates another complication because it gives police officers a lot of discretion in issuing this ticket to drivers.

Like most laws, vehicle and traffic violations usually have exceptions, but this violation does not. This means that absent a plea bargain, a driver is either guilty or not guilty of tailgating, which must be proven by the facts.

Monetary Penalties

The fines for Following Too Closely are:

  • First offense, fine can be up to $150
  • Second offense within 18 months, fine can be up to $300
  • Third offense within 18 months, fine can be up to $450
  • Town and village surcharges are $93 and all other court surcharges are $88.
Point Penalties

Conviction of a tailgating violation carries 4 points.

Other Penalties To Keep In Mind

It is also important to keep in mind that conviction of a Following Too Closely ticket, can trigger a driver responsibility assessment fee if a driver already has points on his or her driving record. It can also cause major car insurance premium increases over the course of years, which translates into major money.

This violation is also considered a “serious traffic violation” and drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license will be suspended for 60 days upon conviction of two “serious traffic violation” within three years or a 120 suspension for three “serious traffic violation” within three years.

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