Navigating Your Moving Violation in New Jersey Municipal Court
New Jersey motorists who end up on the receiving end of certain moving violations like speeding or “careless driving” are often concerned about the motor vehicle points associated with them. Here at our blog, we've discussed the most popular alternative to pleading guilty to a moving points violation: “unsafe driving.” N.J.S.A 39:4. 97-2 carries zero points, but we also mentioned the downside, which is an expensive $250 state surcharge: 39:4-97.2 Driving, operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner, offense created; fines; surcharge.
1. a. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, it shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner likely to endanger a person or property.
A person convicted of a first offense under subsection a. shall be subject to a fine of not less than $50.00 or more than $150.00 and shall not be assessed any motor vehicle penalty points pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1982, c.43 (C.39:5-30.5).
A person convicted of a second offense under subsection a. shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100.00 or more than $250.00 and shall not be assessed any motor vehicle penalty points pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1982, c.43 (C.39:5-30.5).
A person convicted of a third or subsequent offense under subsection a. shall be subject to a fine of not less than $200.00 or more than $500.00 and shall be assessed motor vehicle penalty points pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1982, c.43 (C.39:5-30.5).
An offense committed under this section that occurs more than five years after the prior offense shall not be considered a subsequent offense for the purpose of assessing motor vehicle penalty points under subsection d. of this section.
In addition to any fine, fee or other charge imposed pursuant to law, the court shall assess a person convicted of an offense under subsection a. of this section a surcharge of $250 which shall be collected by the court and distributed to the Division of Revenue in the Department of the Treasury as a New Jersey Merit Rating Plan surcharge pursuant to subparagraph (a) of paragraph (2) of subsection b. of section 6 of P.L.1983, c.65 (C.17:29A-35). Drivers should always consult with their attorney and insurance company to ascertain whether the points or the surcharge constitute a larger financial burden. Additionally, t here's also another small but significant wrinkle that motorists need to keep in mind: not everyone is eligible for the “unsafe driving” downgrade. Pursuant to state law, offending drivers can only plead to unsafe driving twice in a five (5) year period. That's not a problem for a majority of motorists, but it is also not unusual for drivers with multiple recent violations to forget about a past unsafe driving downgrade before appearing in court for the current ticket. The judge will often instruct a court clerk to pull up the driver's motor vehicle abstract before accepting an unsafe driving plea negotiated by the defense attorney and municipal prosecutor. Defendants can save themselves both time and money by seeking out a copy of their abstract in advance of appearing in court. Do you have more questions about the process? Experienced help is only a short phone call or quick mouse click away. Protect your driving record and privileges by working with counsel to obtain a best-case in traffic court. Contact the municipal court defense lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele online today for a confidential consultation. You can also reach us by telephone at (856) 546-1350.