Receiving a traffic ticket is never a pleasant experience. That brief encounter with New Jersey traffic law enforcement can lead to years of increased insurance premiums, points on your license, and a record that may prejudice any potential future law enforcement encounters. When you receive your ticket, you will have two choices to make.
Your first choice is to accept the ticket and plead guilty, which will potentially add points to your license, as well as a waiver penalty amount. It will also permanently be on your driving record. Depending on the nature of the violation, this may affect your employment or future applications you may file with the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles.
Your second choice is to fight the ticket. If you want to fight a ticket, time is of the essence. You must plead not guilty as soon as possible so that the courts have it on record. If you delay or procrastinate, you may end up receiving a suspension notice for failure to pay a fine. Even though the fine print on the ticket is usually written in legalese, it is important to read through every line to make sure you follow the court’s procedures in contesting the ticket. Once you have submitted your denial, you will want to contact an attorney to help you through the process.
Below are some additional steps you can take when it comes to fighting a ticket.
First Impressions Matter
When you first see those blue lights behind you, you may feel a variety of emotions. Fear, frustration, and confusion are common. However, do not let your emotions fly off the handle when the officer walks up to your car and begins speaking with you. Officers will remember negative encounters, and they are human just like anyone else; they will hold grudges and if they see your name on their docket list and remember it was a negative encounter, they may be less likely to strike a deal with the attorney or outright dismiss the ticket.
During this encounter, it is important to exercise your rights and not answer any questions. It is also important to remember that you are required to produce your license, registration, and proof of insurance. It is helpful to have these documents easily accessible. If you are going to avoid answering questions, it is ideal to do it in a respectful way in order to avoid a negative experience in your car stop.
An officer may ask you seemingly innocuous questions like, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” As innocent as it may seem, this can be used against you if you make an admission like, “Sorry, I know I was speeding.”
Notes, Witnesses, and Points
As soon as possible after the stop, make sure to document any relevant facts that may not already be written on your citation. Memories tend to fade over time, and it is important to have a vivid recollection of events. Additionally, there is a high likelihood your interactions were recorded either on a dashcam or a bodycam. If you or your attorney appears in court and presents information that is contradicted by the officer’s video footage, the judge will not view you as a credible defendant.
If you have passengers in your vehicle, it may be helpful to get recorded statements from them. Or they can appear with you in traffic court. Remember, if they testify as a witness, they will be under oath.
When it comes to points, here is a list of ramifications that will be imposed by the New Jersey DMV for speeding:
- Two points for exceeding the maximum speed limit by 1-14 mph
- Four points for exceeding the maximum speed limit by 15-29 mph
- Five points for exceeding the maximum speed limit by 30 or more mph
If you get six or more points within a three-year time period, you will be assessed a surcharge. If you get 12 or more points on your driving record, your license will be suspended. Over time, points will be dropped from your license by three points at a time if you remain violation-free for one year. Additionally, there are a number of driver safety courses that will allow you to drop between two to three points at a time after completion of the course.
Plea Deals For New Jersey Traffic Law Disputes
These are some of the most common results when tickets are contested in court. Plea deals happen more frequently when an officer sees a defendant has retained counsel. Usually the officer will not want to have to deal with debating an attorney over a violation, so they may be more amenable to a plea deal. Although an attorney will always pursue dismissal first, a plea deal is a common outcome.
A plea deal generally results in a reduction of points. Sometimes there will be an increase in the fine, or the nature of the violation will be changed to a non-moving violation. Either way, reducing points is one of the most important aspects of fighting a ticket. Points will increase your monthly insurance premiums and cost far more than a one-time payment for a penalty.
Attorneys are skilled negotiators who can present exculpatory facts and evidence to an officer before or during your hearing. Exculpatory evidence includes facts that will help in proving your innocence instead of your guilt. When an officer sees this, they will become more inclined to reach a plea deal.
Get Help from an Attorney for New Jersey Traffic Law Issues
You should never pay a speeding ticket without first considering all your options. A trained attorney will have plenty of experience handling numerous citations over their career. As a result, they will be able to carefully navigate the complicated world of New Jersey traffic law to make sure you get the best result.
If you are looking for competent legal counsel to represent you in fighting your citation, contact the law offices of New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin at (732) 887-2479.