Don’t Get Stuck In The Middle, How To Avoid Spillback in New York City

Gridlock is major part of New York City traffic. There are thousands of cars on the streets and sometimes when attempting to make it through an intersection a car gets stuck in the middle. In smaller cities getting stuck in the middle of an intersection isn’t that big of a deal, because there are fewer cars on the road. In Manhattan Spillback or “blocking the box” can cause major gridlock. It also can cost you a fine & two points on your license.

If you see a sign like the one posted in the picture above, please make sure you do not enter the intersection unless you are sure that you will make it completely across. So far this year through the month of March, New York City Police have issued 949 summonses for Spillback with in the five boroughs. Last month in March alone, there were 295 summonses issued. As a New York City Traffic Ticket Attorney I often represent clients for this summons.

Spillback or Blocking the Box is defined by VTL 1175 as when vehicular traffic is stopped on the opposite side of an intersection, no person shall drive a vehicle into such intersection. Except, when making a turn unless there is adequate space on the opposite side of the intersection to accommodate the vehicle he/and or she is driving, notwithstanding the indication of a traffic control signal which would permit him to proceed. The penalty for Spillback in New York is a minimum fine of $138. If you receive a summons you will also receive two (2) points on your license.

If you are driving in Manhattan and you have a green light, but there are cars stopped in front of you on the other side of the intersection, that should be a warning sign to slow down. If there are cars stopped on the other side of the intersection but the rear end of the last car is still in “the box” that is a clear sign to stop! Traffic lights typically are not that long, so there’s always a chance that the light will change while you approaching or driving through it.

Many of us are always in a rush, but if you want to avoid getting a summons, slow down when crossing a crowded intersection. If you have recently received a summons for Spillback let an experienced New York City Traffic Ticket Attorney fight for you. Contact my office immediately at 212-227-9008 or via email at