I often get this question when people from surrounding states like Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia or Maryland get a ticket while driving through New Jersey. The answer is, in most instances, depending on the court and the charges, no.
Traffic court judges in Camden, Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland Counties understand that lots of people get tickets while passing through their towns from other states. That is why they often allow someone to "plea by affidavit."
How Can I Resolve the Ticket Without Appearing?
What does that mean? Well, it means that your lawyer can appear in court on your behalf and negotiate a plea with the prosecutor on your behalf. For example, he could knock a speeding ticket down to an Unsafe Operation or "no point" charge.
He would then have you sign a sworn statement before a notary setting forth the necessary facts for the plea. This then gets sent to the court clerk with payment of the fees and court costs. In effect, you never have to appear.
Does This Happen All the Time?
This is not to say that this will happen in every instance. Some judges are more strict on what constitutes too far away to appear. If the court is in Camden, across the Delaware river from Philadelphia, and you live in a Philly suburb, he or she may still require you to appear. Others just do not allow it.
Some other judges may not be comfortable doing it with more serious charges, like drunk driving. Thus, although it is common practice to enter a plea by affidavit, and you probably won't have to, you should always assume you have to appear unless your attorney tells you otherwise.
So What Do I Do?
If you live out of state and have received a ticket in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to discuss your matter. It may well be able to be handled quickly and easily without your having to leave your home!
If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's traffic laws, then download my free book, A Guide to Driving Legally in NJ, and Surviving Traffic Court If You Don't.