The answer to this question is not an either-or scenario, but rather an and scenario. In most instances, a motorist should both fight their ticket and go to traffic school (which ostensibly means enrollment in a NYSDMV approved defensive driving course).
Most traffic tickets that a motorist receives on Long Island fall within the jurisdiction of either the Suffolk or Nassau District Court, Nassau TPVA, Suffolk TPVA, or the various Town and Village Courts located on the island. A vast majority of these tickets can be plea bargained (with certain exceptions). However, a crucial point to remember is that if you are submitting your plea to the traffic violation by mail, you must be sure to plead “not Guilty” by signing under Section B of the Uniform Traffic Ticket (UTT). Please note that there are certain violations which cannot be plead through the mail and require an in-person appearance, most notably traffic misdemeanors such as driving with a suspended license/registration, reckless driving or DWI.
When the Court receives a timely not guilty plea it will schedule an appearance (some offer virtual like the Suffolk TPVA) at which time you can discuss the case and the possibility of a plea reduction to a lesser charge. Of course, it is imperative that you have an experienced traffic ticket attorney on Long Island who can appear and advocate on your behalf. In most cases your attorney can appear without the client as long as they sign an authorization for the attorney to appear and dispose of the case.
The one main exception to tickets that cannot be plea bargained are those that are issued within the five (5) boroughs of New York City and do not have a traffic misdemeanor attached to them. In these cases, these violations will be heard through the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) which fall under the jurisdiction of the DMV. These cases require a hearing and certainly would benefit with representation by an attorney.
Notwithstanding the above, in all instances, you may enroll in a NYSDMV-approved defensive driving course to limit your point exposure. Remember that you need 11 points in an 18-month period for the imposition of a suspension of your New York license or driving privileges. In addition, if you attain 6 points in an 18-month period, the DMV imposes a driver responsibility assessment that increases incrementally for every point above six (6).
However, if you successfully complete a DMV-approved defensive driving course within 18 months of the violation date, you can reduce up to 4 points from your driving record. You can take the course every 18 months for purposes of point reduction.