Many people contact my office with a speeding or careless driving ticket, or other traffic offense that carries motor vehicle points, looking to avoid them, if possible. The solution is 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 $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 carry a fine of $50 to $150, costs of $33 and a surcharge of $250. With a minimum fine, that comes to $333.
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 Do If You Get a Ticket That Carries Points
If you get a ticket that carries points, you should pull your driving abstract and discuss your options in detail with an attorney. Many times a simple two point ticket will not have any significant impact.
If you were speeding faster, and are facing a 4 or 5 point speeding ticket, or, for example, a reckless driving ticket (5 points), it might be better to plead the offense down to a 2 point speeding ticket or a reckless to a careless, which only carries 2 points. You should also check with your insurance agent to see if the points would have any impact on your auto premiums.
When looking at your options, consider the following:
- If you get six or more points within three (3) years, you will be assessed a surcharge.
- If you amass 12 or more points within a 2 year period, your license will be suspended.
Points can also be removed at some future point. Taking a defensive driving program offered by the Motor Vehicle Commission, for example, can remove two (2) points. A Driver Improvement or Probationary Driver Program can remove three (3) points. Even just going one year with no violations or suspensions will remove three (3) points.
The bottom line here is that a couple points on your license is not the end of the world. Before making a decision on what to do, call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment in my Woodbury, New Jersey office to discuss what course of action is best for you.
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.