Traffic laws are designed to keep everyone on the roads as safe as humanly possible. Sometimes, however, a small oversight or a momentary act of negligence can put you on the wrong side of those very laws. Motor vehicle offenses can be costly and depending on what the offense was and if you have prior violations on your license, you could end up with painful consequences.
If you want to fight your motor vehicle offense, it is important to have the right legal defense. At Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio, L.L.C., we have the experience and insight into the legal process and motor vehicle law necessary to give you the best chance at challenging the charges.
The Point System in New Jersey
Within the State of New Jersey, all motor vehicle offenses have point values associated with them that are marked on your driver’s license. The point system only comes into play with moving violations, so things like parking tickets will not net you points. DUI laws also change the penalties for any motor vehicle offenses committed while under the influence. DUI charges will be much harsher in general. Motor vehicles offenses not only have a point cost that correspond to the severity of the crime but also fines that scale up with severity. Accruing 6 points within 3 years means having to pay an annual surcharge to the State. If you manage to gain 12 points in any timeframe, your license will be forcibly suspended. Motor vehicle offenses are also often accompanied by increases in your insurance premiums, so between that, fines and court fees, the monetary costs of a traffic charge can add up quickly. Below is a list of some common offenses and more traffic violations can be found here.
Motor Vehicle Offenses in New Jersey
Tailgating – N.J.S.A. 39:4-89
Tailgating occurs when you follow another vehicle too closely on the road, so closely that the police determined that you could not have prevented a collision with the car in front if the vehicle had suddenly stopped. This takes into account time of day, weather and road conditions and what the traffic was like at the time. Tailgating adds a hefty 5 points to your license and has the potential to get your license suspended for 30 days. Viable defenses to a tailgating charge are proving that the distance was reasonable given the situation or providing a convincing reason for a temporary tailgating scenario.
Illegal U-Turn – N.J.S.A. 39:4-125
This is a fairly common motor vehicle offense that usually occurs when a driver attempts to perform a U-turn in an area marked with “No U-turn” signs or in a scenario where the driver turns in the opposite direction of traffic with an obstructed view within 500 feet of said traffic. This offense comes with fines as well as 3 points on your driving record.
Driving Without Insurance – N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2
The State of New Jersey requires that any owner or registrant of a motor vehicle carry automobile liability insurance. Operating a motor vehicle on any public road or highway without insurance violates this statute. You are also in violation if you knew or should have known that the motor vehicle you were operating was uninsured. This is one of the most serious traffic violations you can be charged with. A first offense comes with fines of between $300-$1,000 as well as a mandatory surcharge of $250 annually for three years. Your license will be forcibly suspended for a whole year and you will need to complete community service for an amount of time determined by the court. A second offense is even more harsh. The fines are bumped up $500-$5,000, the surcharge still applies, community service is now up to 180 hours, the suspension of your license is now two years long and jail time of up to 14 days is added on. The reinstatement of your license also comes at the discretion of the DMV director. This offense requires an experienced traffic violation attorney to navigate successfully.
Cell Phone Violations – N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3
The urge to multitask by talking on your cell while driving is always present. Unfortunately for drivers who engage in such cell phone usage, New Jersey is quite harsh on offenders. While a first and second offense will net hefty fines of $200-$400 and $400-$600, they will not cause you to get points on your license. However, if you manage a third offense the penalties exponentially increase, with fines now at $600-$800, 3 points on your driving record, and the potential to receive a 90 day license suspension. Even a first offense can also cause your insurance rates to go up. There are two exceptions to this statute. If the driver has reason to believe their life or safety is in jeopardy or that a criminal act may be perpetrated against them then driving with one hand on the steering wheel while on the phone is acceptable. The other exception is if the driver is using the phone to report a fire, traffic crash, serious road hazard, medical or hazardous material emergency or another driver who is driving recklessly or appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Driving While Suspended – N.J.S.A. 39:3-40
Driving while already having your license suspended in going to result in steep penalties, as you are basically seen as flouting the law. First offenses carry a $500 fine and an additional period of suspension of up to 6 months. The fines increase with second and third offenses, with 5 or 10 days of imprisonment based on which subsequent offense it is. Additionally, both will result in a revocation of your registration certificate and plates if you are conviction within 5 years of a previous violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40. If you were suspended for a lack of insurance or a DUI, the penalties increase across the board. In fact, driving while on the DWI revocation list can be charged as a fourth degree crime, which is a felony charge in New Jersey. These are complex cases but they are defensible with proper legal guidance.
Need Help with NJ Motor Vehicle Offenses?
Even if you have points on your license, there are steps you can take to reduce your total and even regain a clean slate. Every year you go without getting a ticket or suspension clears 3 points off your record. Additionally, you can take a New Jersey defensive driving course every 5 years to knock another 2 points off your license. However, at Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio, L.L.C. we aim to keep you from ever gaining points in the first place. Our seasoned motor vehicle offense attorneys are prepared to help you beat a conviction and the potential penalties with a rock solid defense. Contact us today to learn more.