What Happens If You Get a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey?
When you get a speeding ticket or other traffic citation in New Jersey, you should be concerned about three key issues:
- Your driving record
- Your auto insurance rates
- Your exposure to fines, court costs, surcharges and prison time.
An effective strategy for handling your traffic ticket will take all of those issues into consideration. Before we discuss the options that Anthony can pursue on your behalf, let’s take a closer look at each of these issues.
If you are convicted of a moving violation – whether it is an in-state or out-of-state ticket – the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will add points to your driving record. This is a permanent record. It can never be expunged. However, in some cases, you can get points deducted. If you collect enough points, your driver’s license may be suspended. Common New Jersey moving violations (with statutes) and points are:
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-129||Leaving scene of an accident (injury)||8|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-96||Reckless driving||5|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-98||Speeding (30 mph over the limit)||5|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-128.1||Improper passing of school bus||5|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-85||Improper passing||4|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-98||Speeding (15-29 mph over limit)||4|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-123||Improper turn||3|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-88||Unsafe lane change||2|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-98||Speeding (1-14 mph over limit)||2|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-97||Careless driving||2|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-129||Leaving scene of an accident (no injury)||2|
|N.J.S.A. 39:4-105||Failure to stop for traffic light||2|
In some cases, points may be assessed for only repeat violations. For instance, if you are convicted for a third time with violating New Jersey’s ban on using a hand-held cell phone while driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3), and less than 10 years have passed since your last prior conviction for the offense, you would be assessed three points. If you are convicted of an out-of-state moving violation, you are given two points. (Check out this summary of the New Jersey Points System provided by New Jersey Courts.) If you collect 12 points within a two-year period, your license can be suspended. However, there are three ways to get points deducted from your MVC driving record:
- If you complete the Driver Improvement Program, you can get three points removed.
- If you voluntarily take an MVC-approved defensive driving course, you can get two points removed (but this reduction is available only once every five years).
- For every one year you go without getting a new moving violation, you can get three points removed (but your record can never go below 0 points).
As the above shows, you should think twice before you simply admit guilt and pay your traffic ticket. The points on your driving record must be given serious attention.
Auto Insurance Rates
If you are convicted of a traffic violation, your auto insurance rate may go up as well. It will depend on your specific insurance provider’s policy. Many factors can go into the insurer’s decision, including the type of violation and your driving record and accident history. Insurance.com analyzed nearly 500,000 auto insurance quotes and other data and determined typical rate increases that accompany certain traffic violations. This chart may help you to understand the potential rate increase you could face if your traffic ticket leads to a conviction:
|Driving without a license||18%|
|Speeding (30 mph over limit)||15%|
|Speeding (15-29 mph over limit)||12%|
|Speeding (1-14 mph over limit)||11%|
An auto insurance company may ultimately reduce your rate if you complete a defensive driving course or go a certain period of time without a new violation.
Fines, Court Costs, Surcharges, Prison
In addition to the impact on your driving record and auto insurance rate, you also need to consider the following when you receive a traffic ticket:
- Fines – Each traffic violation in New Jersey carries a potential fine if you are convicted. You can see a list of those fines at the New Jersey Municipal Courts The more serious the offense, the higher you will be fined.For instance, if you are convicted of speeding between 1-9 mph over the posted speed limit, you face an $85 fine. If you are convicted of speeding 35-39 mph over the limit, the fine is $260. If you are convicted of speeding or any other moving violation in a highway construction zone, designated safe corridor or a zone with a 65 mph speed limit, your fine will be doubled. New Jersey police officers often charge drivers with multiple traffic violations in a single stop. For instance, you may get ticketed for both speeding and reckless driving. If that occurs, the total amount in fines could be significant.
- Court costs – If you choose to go to court instead of merely paying your traffic ticket online, the local Municipal Court can charge you up to $33 in court costs (at least $5.50 of which cannot be suspended).
- Surcharges – You can be hit with a surcharge for certain violations if convicted. You will need to pay the surcharge every year for three years. Those violations include:
|Driving without a license||$100|
|Driving with a suspended license||$250|
|Driving without liability insurance||$250|
- Additionally, if you get six or more points on your driving record within a three-year period, you will be assessed a surcharge of $150 plus $25 for each additional point on your record.
- Prison – Finally, you can face possible incarceration for certain types of traffic violations. For instance, if you are convicted for the second time for driving while your license is suspended, you could go to jail for up to five days. A third offense would carry a minimum 10-day sentence.
How Can a New Jersey Attorney Help with Your Traffic Ticket?
If you receive a traffic ticket in New Jersey, you should pay close attention to the bottom of the ticket and whether the “court appearance required” box is checked. If so, make sure to note the court date and time. (See this example of a New Jersey traffic citation.) You should get in touch with attorney Anthony J. Vecchio as soon as possible. Do not wait until the day before your scheduled court date. Also, do not wait to contact Anthony after your court date. If you fail to appear in court at the scheduled date and time, it can lead to a warrant being issued for your arrest and suspension of your driving privileges. When Anthony reviews your case, he will take all of the above issues into consideration and explain your options, which may include:
- Contesting your ticket – It may be possible to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. For instance, the radar gun that was used to register your speed may have been defective or out of maintenance, or surveillance camera footage may cast doubt on an officer’s allegation that you ran through a traffic light.
- Seeking a dismissal or reduction of your charge – If you were charged with multiple traffic violations, the prosecution may be willing to drop certain charges in exchange for you pleading guilty to the most serious violation, or the prosecution may dismiss a violation if you agree to participate in a driver improvement program. In some instances, the prosecution may agree to reduce a moving violation such as speeding to a non-moving violation such as “unsafe operation.”
Anthony will take the time to thoroughly review and analyze your case and come up with a strategy that works best for you. For instance, if you have prior traffic violation convictions, it may be crucial for you to avoid getting another conviction on your record, which could expose you to a surcharge or a suspension of your driver’s license. In order to do that, you may need to plead guilty to a non-moving violation. Although the non-moving violation may carry a higher fine than the moving violation you were charged with, taking this route may ultimately be in your best interests because it will keep points off your record.
Get Help Today from a New Jersey Traffic Ticket Attorney
Are you facing legal problems associated with a traffic ticket or charges of multiple moving violations? If you are concerned and unsure about what you should do next, attorney Anthony J. Vecchio is here to assist you. Anthony has dedicated his legal career to standing up for the rights of the accused throughout New Jersey, including those charged with traffic violations. He can provide the serious, thoughtful and aggressive legal representation you need. Don’t wait to get legal help. Call the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio today or reach us through our convenient online form.