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If I get a ticket in NJ that carries points, should I plea to Unsafe Operation (a no point ticket)?

Many people contact my office with a speeding ticket or other traffic offense that they received in Southern New Jersey, looking to avoid the points, if possible. The solution is often the "unsafe operation" statute, but ironically, that is not the only (or necessarily best) course of action. Believe it or not, sometimes taking the hit on the points is a better way to go.

Speeding Ticket v. No Point Ticket

Let's take for example a speeding ticket. In New Jersey, if you were going no more than 14 mph above the limit, there is an exposure of

  • two (2) points
  • a fine of $50 to $200, and
  • court costs of about $33.

In most cases, the court will levy the minimum fine, so you are looking at $83 plus 2 points for that speeding ticket. Now, let's suppose you wanted to avoid those points. If you have not plead to an "unsafe operation" in the past five (5) years, then it will be a first offense, and have a penalty of

  • a fine of $50 to $150
  • costs of $33 and
  • a surcharge of $250.

With a minimum fine, that comes to $333, instead of $83. If you have plead to this once before in the past five (5) years and are a second offender, then the fine is $100 to $250, so with minimums, it would be $383. Obviously, that speeding ticket would be a cheaper way to go, depending on your driving record.

What to Consider

If you get a ticket that carries points, you should pull your driving abstract and consider your options. Many times a simple two point ticket will not have any significant impact. When looking at your abstract, consider the following:

If you are close to either of these thresholds, a plea to Unsafe Operation would most likely be the best way to go. You should also check with your insurance agent to see if the points would have any negative effect on your auto premiums.Bear in mind also that points can also be removed from your driving record.

What to To

The bottom line here is that in most instances a couple points on your license is not the end of the world. If you received a ticket in Camden, Gloucester, or Salem County, New Jersey, and are looking for an attorney to represent you, feel free to give me a call at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment in my Woodbury office to discuss what course of action is best for you before making any decisions.

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.

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Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.