To a great extent, whether you need a lawyer for your New Jersey traffic ticket depends on what the tickets are for. How serious are they? How can they impact your life if you just plead guilty? Naturally, there is a range of severity.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff!
If it is a 2 point traffic ticket, you have a New Jersey driver's license, and you don't have any points on your record, you can handle it yourself. If you really don't want the points, you can pay the $250 surcharge, plus fine, and plead to Unsafe Operation. Quite frankly, if you don't have any points now, getting 2 on your record by pleading to the ticket is no biggie and can be removed by taking an online class. Save the $250!
If you aren't a New Jersey licensed driver, the impact of the points (which can't be avoided) can vary depending on the state where you are licensed. Having an attorney who knows where the point cutoffs are can help you to minimize the consequences of a guilty plea.
On the other hand, if you have a DUI, you should absolutely hire a lawyer, as the consequences are very serious and should be avoided if possible.
Traffic Tickets Where You Need a Lawyer
Everything else is on a continuum in the middle as to whether you should hire a lawyer. The consequences you face go from annoying and inconvenient to major, as you can see below.
Did you get a careless or reckless driving ticket as a result of an accident with one or more other vehicles? If so, just pleading guilty yourself can not only get you points (2 for Careless; 5 for reckless), but that plea can be used against you if the other drivers or passengers sue you! A lawyer can help you to keep that from happening and avoid nasty surprises like that.
Sometimes the ticket for the accident is accompanied by charges of Leaving the Scene and/or Failure to Report the Accident! Pleading guilty to those can also have nasty consequences, like 6 months loss of your license and 30 days in jail, and that's if no one was injured! If there was personal injury, you face a 1 year loss of license, 8 points on your record, and 180 days in jail!
Driving While Suspended
If your license has been suspended, and you are caught driving, that can cause problems as well. If it's your second offense, you could get up to 5 days in jail, and a third or subsequent offense, it's 10 days! Not something you want!
If the suspension was for drunk driving, and the suspension period has not expired, it gets worse! Fines can be from $500 to $10,000, plus jail time! For a first offense driving while suspended on a first offense DUI, it's 10 to 90 days in jail. For a first offense on a second or subsequent DUI, it is a crime (felony) and you face 6 to 18 months in jail! Plus you have a criminal record!
If you are driving while suspended because the suspension period is over, but you never got around to getting your license reinstated, an attorney can help you straighten that out and plead the case down!
Driving Without Insurance
Auto insurance is expensive in New Jersey, and mandatory! You can get into serious trouble if you don't have any, especially if you get into an accident. A first offense is a fine of up to $1,000, community service, and a 1 year license suspension. A second or subsequent offense is a $5,000 fine, 14 days in jail, and a 2 year license suspension!
Tickets Carrying Lots of Points
Points on a New Jersey license can add ups quickly. Get 6 or more, and you face surcharges. 12 or more, and your license gets suspended! So any time you get tickets that carry more than 2 points (or even 2 points if you already have 4 or 10), it's worth it to have a lawyer represent you. So if you get a ticket for Improper Passing (4 points), Tailgating (5 points), Reckless Driving (5 points), or Speeding 14mph+ over the limit (4 to 5 points), you should get help!
Find Out For Sure
If you received a ticket in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem or Cumberland County, especially if you are out of state, you are ready to hire an attorney or think you might need one, then give me a call right away at 856-432-4113 for a free, no obligation discussion of your case. You don't want to make this situation any worse than it has to be!
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.
If you liked this information and found it useful, then you might like or need these others:
- What is Unsafe Operation?
- What are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
- What are the Penalties for Driving While Suspended?