Many drivers will receive a traffic ticket at some point in their lives. However, just because traffic tickets are relatively common does not mean they should be taken lightly. The consequences of certain tickets can go well beyond simple fines, with potential long-term effects on your finances and even your ability to drive.
That’s why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable traffic ticket attorney any time you receive a citation in New Jersey. At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our team has years of experience fighting for the rights of ordinary people like you. Contact us today to discuss your case with a trusted New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer. The consultation is free, and we’ll be straightforward with you about whether you need legal representation.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer for a Traffic Ticket?
So, is it really worth it to hire a lawyer for a simple traffic ticket? In many cases, yes, particularly if you’re facing substantial fines or the revocation of your driving privileges — penalties that could have serious consequences. Depending on the circumstances, a traffic ticket attorney can help you by:
- Providing thorough advice so you understand your legal options
- Leveling the playing field between you and the state prosecutors
- Challenging or suppressing evidence that was improperly obtained
- Working with expert witnesses who can testify to support your case
- Appearing in traffic court on your behalf so you don’t have to
- Negotiating for a plea bargain or arguing for your charges to be reduced or dismissed
- Handling your case at a reasonable rate that ultimately saves you money and headaches in the long run
If you have questions about whether you need a lawyer for your traffic ticket, give Keith Oliver Criminal Law a call today. We’ll give you an honest assessment in a free review of your case.
Types of Traffic Tickets We Can Help With
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our New Jersey traffic ticket attorneys can help you fight back against citations for:
- Parking – Law enforcement officers issue parking tickets when people park their vehicles in prohibited areas. Under § 39:4-138 of New Jersey’s criminal code, you are prohibited from parking in an intersection, on a crosswalk or sidewalk, in front of a driveway, and in any clearly designated “no parking” spaces.
- Speeding – Under New Jersey law, you are prohibited from driving at any speed that could be considered unsafe under the circumstances, regardless of whether you exceed posted speed limits. You can also receive a speeding ticket for exceeding a prima facie or presumed speed limit. Prima facie speed limits include a 25 mph limit in school zones, residential areas, and business districts; a 35 mph limit in suburban business and residential districts; and a 55 mph limit in all other areas that do not have designated 65 mph speed limits.
- Reckless driving – Under § 39:4-96 of the New Jersey code, a reckless driving offense involves driving “heedlessly” or in a “willful or wanton” manner that has the potential to endanger other people or their property.
- Careless driving – A careless driving offense is similar to but significantly less serious than a reckless driving offense. Under § 39:4-97 of the New Jersey code, careless driving is defined as driving “without due caution and circumspection” or in a manner that has the potential to endanger other people or their property.
- Failure to observe a traffic signal – A driver or pedestrian who fails to obey instructions from any “official traffic control device” has committed a failure to observe a traffic signal offense. Under § 39:4-81 of state law, you are expected to treat intersections with missing or defective street signs as though four-way stop signs were present, and you can be ticketed for failure to comply with this expectation.
- Improper passing of a school bus – Unless you are on the other side of a divided highway, you are required under § 39:4-128.1 of state law to stop at least 25 feet away from a school bus that has stopped to allow children or disabled passengers to embark or disembark and remain stopped until passengers have moved off of the road.
- Driving with a suspended license – Under § 39:3-40 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes (NJRS), it is illegal to operate a vehicle if your license has been suspended or revoked or if you have been prohibited from obtaining a license.
- DWI/DUI – Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are considered interchangeable terms under New Jersey law. You can be charged with DWI or DUI if you operate or have actual physical control of a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit of 0.08 percent or while your physical or mental functioning is substantially impaired due to the use of intoxicating substances.
- Leaving the scene of an accident – Under NJRS § 39:4-129(b), you are required to stop and remain at the scene of any motor vehicle accident that results in injuries, death, or property damage. If you knowingly leave the scene of an accident, you could face criminal hit-and-run charges.
- Racing on a highway – Under NJRS § 39:4-52, you are prohibited from racing your vehicle on public highways to win a wager or set a speed record.
Mandatory Court Appearances for Traffic Tickets in New Jersey
If you receive a municipal court summons after being ticketed for a traffic offense in New Jersey, you may notice that “Court Appearance Required” is printed on the summons. The state requires court appearances for many types of serious traffic offenses, such as:
- Parking in a handicapped space without a legal placard
- Exceeding posted speed limits by more than 40 mph
- Driving more than 20 mph over the limit in a construction zone
- Driving while drunk or otherwise illegally impaired
- Improperly passing a stopped school bus
- Unlawfully racing on public highways
In addition to mandatory court appearances, you may also end up appearing in court for a traffic ticket if:
- You want to contest the ticket or charges against you.
- The traffic violation is not included in the Statewide Violations Schedule.
- You were involved in an accident that resulted in injury or death.
Penalties for Traffic Tickets in New Jersey
The penalties for a traffic ticket conviction can be severe in New Jersey. Depending on the nature of your offense and your history of other traffic offenses, you could face penalties such as:
- Fines – Fines for relatively minor traffic offenses can be as low as $50 but can be in the thousands of dollars for serious offenses.
- Surcharges – If you accumulate multiple traffic tickets within a certain period, you may also be responsible for extra fees known as surcharges. Some surcharges are one-time fees, but others require you to pay minimum annual amounts for a certain number of years.
- Demerit points – New Jersey adds a certain number of demerit points to your driving record for different traffic violations. If you accumulate too many points within a short time, your driving privileges could be suspended.
- Jail time – Certain serious offenses, such as reckless driving or leaving the scene of an accident, can result in community service or even jail time.
- Loss of license – If you commit multiple serious offenses or receive a ticket while driving with a suspended license, you could have your license suspended for additional periods or even permanently revoked.
New Jersey Traffic Ticket Point System
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s (MVC’s) official Points Schedule specifies demerit points for the following traffic violations:
- Moving against traffic – 2 points
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way street – 2 points
- Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk – 2 points
- Passing a vehicle yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk – 2 points
- Driving on the sidewalk – 2 points
- Failure to observe traffic signals –2 points
- Failure to yield – 2 points
- Careless driving –2 points
- Speeding 1-14 mph over the limit – 2 points
- Using a handheld device while driving – 3 points
- Improper passing – 4 points
- Driving in an unsafe manner – 4 points
- Speeding 15-29 mph over the limit – 5 points
- Racing on a highway – 5 points
- Tailgating – 5 points
- Reckless driving – 5 points
- Speeding 30+ mph over the limit – 5 points
- Improper passing of a school bus – 5 points
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury – 8 points
How to Pay a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey
Depending on the nature of your violation, you may have the option to pay your traffic ticket online, by mail, or in person at a municipal court. However, you should know that paying a traffic ticket is effectively the same as pleading guilty to the ticketed offense. This means you may end up:
- Paying the fine and any assessed surcharges
- Accumulating demerit points on your driving record
- Risking the suspension of your license, if you have too many demerit points
- Having to pay more for auto insurance policies
- Enrolling in driving courses to offset demerit points or insurance rate hikes
Even though it may be tempting to just pay the ticket and get it over with, it’s nearly always best to work with a New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer. An attorney can fight to reduce your traffic charges or even get your ticket dismissed, often for the same price or less than you would otherwise pay in fines, and with none of the other penalties attached.