It is fairly rare for jail time (incarceration) to be meted out as part of a traffic court sentence, but it does happen. What is even rarer is where there is an accumulation of jail time for various offenses that adds up to a rather long stay. How much time can you rack up? Well, a recent decision by New Jersey's Appellate Court answers that question.
In the case of State v. Federico the judges held that jail terms imposed as a result of multiple traffic ticket convictions arising out of a single incident may not exceed 180 days. The case here involved someone who was convicted of a third offense DWI, along with driving on the revoked list as a result of a prior DWI conviction. Each of these offenses requires a jail term, and the total time exceeded 180 days.
In arriving at this decision, the Court noted that federal constitutional law would permit a sentence exceeding 180 days following the conviction for a variety of petty offenses stemming from the same incident. However, as a matter of long-standing policy, in the absence of the offer of a jury trial, 180 days of incarceration is the maximum permitted in our state for convictions of multiple petty offenses arising from the same incident.
One should bear in mind, however, that this is for traffic court offenses, not criminal matters such as shoplifting, assault, and the like. These are considered disorderly, or petty disorderly conduct, charges, as opposed to traffic tickets. Even so, it does give someone an idea of the maximum time he or she may face as a result of these types of violations.