As a driver in New Jersey, getting pulled over and receiving a traffic ticket can be a frustrating experience. If the police issue you a traffic ticket in New Jersey, it can it lead to hefty fines. Additionally, depending on the offense, it can result in points being added to your driver’s license, increased insurance rates, and potentially a license suspension.
However, it’s important to remember that being issued a traffic ticket in New Jersey is not the end of the world. There are steps you can take to handle the situation and potentially even have the ticket dismissed.
Here’s what you should do if the police issue you a traffic ticket in New Jersey:
Pull Over Safely
If a police officer signals for you to pull over, do so quickly and safely. Find a safe location to stop, such as the shoulder of the road or a parking lot. If you are on a busy road or highway, try to find an exit or a rest stop where you can safely stop your vehicle. Be sure to use your turn signal to show your intention to pull over and pull over as far to the right as possible.
Remain Calm and Polite
When the police officer approaches your vehicle, remain calm and polite. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to approach you. Do not make any sudden movements or reach for anything unless instructed to do so. If the officer asks you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance, provide them politely and promptly.
Understand the Violation
Once the officer has issued you a traffic ticket, take the time to understand the violation for which you have been cited. The officer will list this information on the ticket, along with the date, time, and location of the violation. It’s important to understand the nature of the violation so you can determine your next steps.
Consider Your Options
After receiving a traffic ticket, you have a few different options. You can plead guilty and pay the fine, which may cause points to be added to your driver’s license. You can also plead guilty and request a payment plan or ask for a reduced fine. Alternatively, you can plead not guilty and request a court hearing and trial to contest the ticket.
Consult with a Traffic Ticket Attorney
If you are considering pleading not guilty and contesting the ticket, you should consult with a New Jersey municipal court attorney who knows how to navigate traffic violations. The attorney can help you understand the potential consequences of the violation and whether you have a defense to the ticketed offense. The attorney can also attempt to negotiate with the prosecutor a plea deal to a lesser offense.
Prepare for Your Court Hearing
If you decide to plead not guilty and contest the ticket, you will need to prepare for your court hearing. Most traffic ticket cases are heard in the municipal court of the municipality in which the police issued the ticket. This may involve gathering evidence to support your case, such as witness statements or photographs. It’s also important to dress appropriately and be respectful in court.
Attend Your Court Hearing
On the day of your court hearing, arrive early and be prepared to wait. When your case is called, stand and address the judge respectfully. Be prepared to answer questions the judge may have.
What Conviction of Traffic Violations Can Cost You in New Jersey
Remember, you do not have the right to a driver’s license. It is a privilege the State can and will take away if you violate state traffic laws. Penalties for the most significant traffic offenses in New Jersey also include heavy fines and jail time.
Many traffic violations in New Jersey can cause fines ranging from $26 to more than $500, with many costing $54 to $140. Charges like DWI, reckless driving and eluding (fleeing) police are punishable by hundreds of dollars in fines plus active jail time and loss of driving privileges, with more severe punishment for multiple offenses.
A traffic offense can cost you in two additional ways in New Jersey:
New Jersey Surcharge Violation System (NJSVS)
Drivers who have been convicted for certain offenses are liable for surcharges. See NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-97.2 . Surcharges are payments you must make every year for three years besides any court fines and penalties. You could pay an annual surcharge of:
- $100 for being an unlicensed driver or driving with an expired license ($300 total)
- $250 for driving with a suspended license ($750 total)
- $250 for operating a vehicle without auto liability insurance ($750 total)
- $100 for failure to insure a moped ($300 total)
- $1,000 for first and second driving while intoxicated (DUI) ($3,000 total)
- $1,500 for a third DUI within three years of a previous offense ($4,500 total)
- $1,000 for refusing to take a test to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ($3,000 total)
- $150 plus $25 per point for accumulating 6 or more points on your driver’s license within 3 years.
Failing to pay a surcharge may result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Afterward, it will cost $100 plus the surcharges owed to get your license back.
If payment is still not made, the matter may be transferred to the Superior Court, where a Superior Court Judge can enter judgment allowing the State to collect unpaid surcharges. Collection costs and interest charges on unpaid surcharges can accrue.
If the judge convicted you of a moving violation, the N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will penalize you by adding points to your driving record. If you receive six or more points within three years, the MVC will assess you a surcharge (see above). If you receive twelve or more points on your record, the MVC will suspend your license. Having points on your license will also increase your insurance rates.
Below are some violations that will result in points on your driving record:
- Leaving the scene of an accident that caused personal injury: 8 points
- Reckless driving: 5 points
- Tailgating (following too closely): 5 points
- Racing: 5 points
- Improperly passing a school bus: 5 points
- Improper passing: 4 points
- Driving in an unsafe manner (third or subsequent offense within five years): 4 points
- Improper turn at a traffic light: 3 points
- Improper right, left or U-turn: 3 points
- Careless driving: 2 points
- Failure to yield at an intersection: 2 points
- Failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk: 2 points
- Failure to observe traffic signals: 2 points
- Exceeding speed limit by 30 mph or more: 5 points
- Exceeding speed limit by 15-29 mph: 4 points
- Exceeding speed limit by 1-14 mph: 2 points.
How Long Do Points Stay on Your Driving Record?
The MVC deducts 3 points from your record every year you do not commit a new moving violation charge. Drivers who have accumulated 12 to 14 points in over two years may take the Driver Improvement Program classroom course (for a fee) instead of a 30-day driver’s license suspension and have three points removed from their record. Drivers may have two points removed once every five years for completing an MVC-approved defensive driving course.
Note: your auto insurance carrier might not factor these deductions into your insurance rate.
If You Are Issued a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey, You May Need an Experienced New Jersey
Municipal Court Lawyer
Conviction for many traffic violations in New Jersey can mean substantial fines, annual surcharges, and higher auto insurance rates.
The experienced New Jersey municipal court attorneys at Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P.C., have represented people accused of traffic violations in municipal courts across the State. If the police have charged you or a loved one with a traffic offense, and you are facing the prospect of a significant fine, surcharges and/or points, consult with one of our attorneys. We will investigate the incident, collect all relevant evidence, find witnesses who may be helpful to your defense.
In appropriate cases, our attorneys will negotiate a plea to a lesser traffic offense from a position of strength. Otherwise, we will prepare the case for trial.
If the police have given you a traffic ticket with the potential for serious penalties, call the New Jersey municipal court team at our Scotch Plains office at 908-490-0444 or email them here for a free consultation.