Most people end up behind the wheel of a car on a near daily basis. Whether you are driving to work, the grocery store, or to pick up your kids, you will find yourself driving on a regular basis. Drivers who violate the traffic laws may be stopped by the police and issued citations. These citations rarely come with jail time, but may come with costly fines and points against your license. If you accrue enough points, you risk losing your license. You may be issued a traffic citation in any state, not just your home state that issued your license.
Traffic citations are a headache to deal with at best. At worst, they could cost you your driving privileges. Without a driver’s license, doing simple, everyday tasks like going to work or school becomes much more difficult. An attorney could help you fight your citation and hopefully avoid the fines and penalties. If you end up losing your driving privileges, a lawyer could also help you get your license reinstated.
If you have been cited for any traffic-related offense, call our Atlantic City traffic lawyers for help. Our team can help you challenge your traffic tickets and the associated fines and points. To schedule a free, confidential legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
Common Traffic Offenses
Most people understand the basics of what you can and cannot do on the road – since it is a general requirement for getting your license in the first place. Often, after years of driving, people forget some of the rules, or their bad habits take over. This can lead to a police officer pulling you over for your mistake. Even if your driving does not cause an accident, you can still receive tickets that are surprisingly harsh.
Hundreds of dollars in fines are common punishments for traffic tickets, but there are also points assigned against your license for each offense. Traffic offenses are found under N.J.S.A. § 39, the Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulations. Most laws related to driving – except DWI offense and homicide by auto – can be found in this section. The individual fines and penalties are found in these code sections, but not the point allocations.
Some of these offenses could also lead to criminal penalties. For instance, even though reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury are listed as traffic offenses, they can also lead to jail time. If you have been cited for a traffic violation, call our Atlantic City traffic lawyers for assistance.
Crimes for Causing Property Damage with a Car in Atlantic County
Depending on the circumstances of how the accident occurred and how recklessly you were driving before the accident, you could face criminal charges or serious traffic citations for the damage you caused. How you act after the crash can also lead to serious charges. If you intentionally hit property or a person with your car, you may even face charges for destruction of property or assault. Our attorneys explain some of these potential charges:
If you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you caused a car accident, you could be arrested and charged with DWI (driving while intoxicated). New Jersey’s DWI offense under N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50 does not have distinct offenses for “DUI causing property damage” or “DUI causing injury,” but these factors can lead to other offenses discussed below. In addition, the fact that you did cause property damage can be used to prove you were driving under the influence and to increase the penalties you face at sentencing.
Reckless Driving and Other Traffic Offenses
If you cause an accident that damages property or hurts someone else because you were driving dangerously or breaking the law, you will likely face tickets or charges for serious traffic offenses. Reckless driving is one of the most severe driving charges you can face, and it leads to fines and jail time. Less dangerous driving can still lead to careless driving tickets or other tickets for speeding, running a red light, or other traffic offenses that took place before the accident.
Criminal Mischief and Destruction of Property
Destroying someone else’s property can lead to charges for “criminal mischief,” also commonly known as destruction of property. The statute for criminal mischief charges under N.J.S.A. § 2C:17-3 requires that the destruction is done on purpose or “knowingly,” so these charges should not apply in cases of true accidents or accidents where you were merely negligent and caused the damage by accident. However, destroying a traffic sign or signal either “recklessly or negligently” can be a disorderly persons offense under N.J.S.A. § 2C:17-3. This means you could face a fine and potential jail time if you hit a traffic sign while driving without the proper care or skill.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Hit and Run
A hit and run is one of the most severe traffic offenses. Hit and run charges for leaving the scene of an accident are more severe if there is personal injury or death at the accident scene, but you can also face charges for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage only. N.J.S.A. § 39:4-129 makes it a crime to leave the scene of an accident if you knew there was property damage involved. If you leave the scene of the accident before you give your name, contact info, insurance info, and other information to the victims or property owners, you can face a fine and potential jail time, which increases for subsequent offenses. You can also lose your license for 6 months after a first offense or a year after a subsequent offense.
Driving Without Insurance
N.J.S.A. § 29:6B-1 requires every driver to carry insurance that can cover at least $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage. If you do not have insurance and are involved in an accident, you will likely face charges for driving without insurance. This offense carries a fine of $300-$1,000, plus community service. In addition, you can lose your license for one year. Repeat offenses carry much higher penalties including a fine up to $5,000, 14 days in jail, community service for 30 days, and a 2-year license suspension.
Assault by Auto and Vehicular Assault
If you drive recklessly or intentionally hit someone else with your car, you can face serious assault charges. This crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c)(2) can carry penalties involving years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, especially if the accident occurs while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This crime can only be charged if there was injury or near injury in addition to the property damage.
How Traffic Points Affect Your Driver’s License in Atlantic City
Many, but not all, traffic offenses come with points assessed against your driver’s license. Points are like demerits against your driving privileges. If you earn enough points, you risk losing your driver’s license. A few points will not cost you your driving privileges, but your insurance provider may increase your rates. Some of the following are common traffic offenses with high point penalties, for reference:
- Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk – 2 points
- Racing – 5 points
- Failure to observe traffic signals – 2 points
- Failure to pass to right of vehicle proceeding in opposite direction – 5 points
- Improper passing on right or off roadway – 4 points
- Wrong way on a one-way street – 2 points
- Passing in no-passing zone – 4 points
- Tailgating – 5 points
- Reckless driving – 5 points
- Careless driving – 2 points
- Driving in an unsafe manner – 4 points
- Speeding by 1-14 mph over – 2 points
- Speeding by 15-29 mph over – 4 points
- Speeding by 30+ mph over – 5 points
- Improper turn at traffic light – 3 points
- Failure to stop at flashing red signal – 2 points
- Improper right or left turn – 3 points
- Failure to give proper signal – 2 points
- Improper passing of school bus – 5 points
- Improper passing of ice cream truck – 4 points
- Leaving the scene of an accident – 2 points
- Leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury – 8 points
Accruing 12 points on your license is grounds for an automatic license suspension. You can get three points removed from your license for every year you go without another offense, plus there are defensive driving courses, driver improvement programs, and probationary driver programs which can remove two to three points each.
If you have garnered too many points on your license, you should consult with a lawyer. Our Atlantic City traffic lawyers can help you fight any new traffic citations and avoid new points on your license. We could also help you get into defensive driving programs and get a few points removed more quickly.
Fines for Traffic Violations in Atlantic City
Just like there are different points for traffic violations, there are also different fines. The fines may range from less than a hundred dollars to several hundred dollars for a single citation. If you are cited for multiple traffic offenses, the fines can add up to a very steep price. Some drivers may want to just pay the fine and not be bothered fighting the ticket in court. However, even if you are only pulled over and ticketed a few times per year, that may add up to several hundred extra dollars you have to pay each year. Our Atlantic City traffic lawyers can help you fight your traffic tickets and avoid costly fines.
While many violations come with a standard fine, others are determined based on the severity of the offense. For example, According to the Statewide Violations Bureau Schedule, failing to stop at a railroad crossing may result in a fine of $86.00. However, the fines for speeding are determined by your rate of speed and the posted speed limit. Exceeding the speed limit by one to nine miles per hours will also result in a fine of $86.00. Exceeding the speed limit by 35 to 39 miles per hours will lead to fines of $261.00. Fines for speeding may also increase if you were speeding through certain location, like construction or school zones.
The fines for a traffic citation may take you by surprise as they can be very expensive. You have the choice to fight your ticket in court. Our Atlantic City traffic attorneys can help you fight your ticket and avoid costly fines.
Atlantic City Traffic Tickets for Out-of-State Drivers
Each state is in charge of creating their own traffic laws and issuing driver’s licenses to citizens. As most people know, a driver’s license in one state is valid in any other state, allowing people to drive anywhere in the country. However, a state does not have the authority to suspend or revoke a driver’s license it did not issue. This means if you are pulled over in Atlantic City, but your driver’s license was issued in Pennsylvania, New Jersey does not have the power to suspend your license or assess any points.
However, this does not mean that out-of-state drivers are off the hook for traffic violations. Most states are part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, which serves as an agreement between the states to uphold the traffic laws of other states. This means if you are from Pennsylvania but pulled over and cited in New Jersey, Pennsylvania will likely honor the citation and assess fines and points.
Your home state may assess the penalties for a New Jersey traffic violation according to its own motor vehicle code. Some states may punish violations with fewer points or lower fines. Other states may impose harsher penalties. You should consult with our Atlantic City traffic lawyers to figure out how a New Jersey citation may affect your out-of-state driver’s license.
DWIs and Traffic Violations in Atlantic City
One of the most significant driving-related offenses you may be charged with is driving while intoxicated (DWI). Unlike many other traffic violations, a DWI is a criminal charge and carries both civil and criminal penalties. A DWI will not only be reflected in your driving record, but also your criminal record.
DWIs are often imposed alongside other traffic violations. Drunk drivers tend to speed, run through stop lights and stop signs, and drive recklessly. The points and fines for a DWI will add up quickly. You may also lose your license for the DWI regardless of how many points are assessed for other traffic violations.
DWIs come with higher fines, possible jail time, long license suspensions, and other penalties and requirements. You may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle after a DWI. The device prevents your car from starting if it detects any alcohol on your breath.
If you are facing a DWI along with any other traffic violations, call our Atlantic City traffic attorneys. We can help you fight your DWI in addition to other driving citations.
How Can a Traffic Lawyer Help?
There are plenty of problems with many traffic tickets that an experienced defense attorney can challenge. The evidence presented to prove your traffic offense is like any other evidence in court, and it must convince a judge that the offense actually happened. Often, a judge might be lenient on offenses that are close to the line, and simply challenging the offense in court will help your defense. Alternatively, the common wisdom is that you should always challenge a traffic ticket on the off chance that the officer fails to appear in court. This, too, could protect you from the points and penalties on your license.
Other offenses are much more serious. Some offenses can lead to automatic license suspensions under the law, or New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission could revoke your driving privileges. Even worse, offenses like reckless driving can actually lead to jail time. Reckless driving can lead to 60 days in jail for a first offense, or up to three months for a second of further offense.
Some traffic offenses are unfairly charged when they should not be. For instance, careless driving is a catch-all provision that could count in many circumstances. However, it is sometimes charged in addition to speeding or some other offense without the necessary additional elements to make the driving “careless.” A defense attorney can challenge these unfair charges.
Atlantic City Traffic Offense Attorneys
The lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help you avoid the points, heavy fines, and other punishments associated with traffic tickets. Call our Atlantic City traffic attorneys today for a free consultation on your case at (609) 616-4956.