Each Court has its own set of protocol and procedures regarding whether an attorney can represent their client without the necessity of the client being present. For traffic misdemeanors such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), driving with a suspended license or registration, or reckless driving, the client (defendant) would most likely need to be present at the Court with their attorney. In Nassau or Suffolk County, most traffic misdemeanors go through their respective District Courts unless the matter is under the jurisdiction of a Town or Village Court, or possibly the Long Beach City Court or Glen Cove City Court.
For traffic violations/infractions that do not rise to the level of traffic misdemeanors or felonies, most of these traffic tickets will be heard in either the Nassau Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (NCTPVA), the Suffolk County TPVA, Glen Cove City Court, Long Beach City Court, the various Traffic Violation Bureaus (TVB) if within the five boroughs of New York City, or one of the multitude of town or village Court within Nassau or Suffolk County. In these instances, unless otherwise directed by the Court, a retained attorney can appear on behalf of the client without the necessity of the client being present.
Although some of these Courts may not require the present of the defendant who is represented by counsel, they may asked for a written authorization by the client for the attorney to appear on their behalf. While not all Courts ask for written authorization, as a matter of practice, it is prudent for the attorney to have an authorization that is duly and signed by the client in the presence of a Notary Public. The authorization basically states that the defendant waives the right to appear and authorizes the attorney of record (or agent on behalf of the attorney) to appear and dispose of the case, The authorization includes various acknowledgements as to the consequences of a guilty plea to the charges brought against them.
There are limited instances where a traffic Court will require the appearance of the motorist. Most notably in the aforementioned Suffolk County TPVA, if the attorney is unable to successfully resolve the matter via pre-trial conference with the prosecutor (usually conducted virtually via Zoom), the matter proceeds to a discovery/compliance conference where there is an exchange of discovery material relevant to the underlying case that is proceeding to trial. In this instance, the motorist must appear with their attorney at this discovery conference and eventually when a trial date is set.