Our New Jersey Traffic Court Lawyer Explains Court Fines

Failing to pay fines and costs in New Jersey traffic court can lead to severe repercussions. As an experienced traffic court lawyer, I advise clients to adhere to any agreed-upon payment plan to avoid potential legal complications and maintain a clean court system record. Non-compliance can escalate to more severe penalties, making it crucial to meet these financial obligations as per the court's schedule.

Paying Traffic Court Fines in New Jersey

Generally, all fines and penalties levied by New Jersey traffic courts are due and payable that day. Judges understand that you may not have all the money to pay, but if you can make some significant payment immediately, they will work with you on the balance.   

When You Fail to Pay the Fines

The first thing that usually happens is a notice goes out to you ordering you to appear in court and explain why you haven't been paying. Appearing at that hearing, preferably with a payment and describing how you will get things back on track, is the best thing you can do.

If you still just cannot pay, the court has some options available to help you at that time. However, blowing off that hearing is a terrible idea because the court can issue a warrant for your arrest or even have the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission suspend your driver's license.

Other Penalties

What can happen after that can be even worse if the situation is not handled correctly. This is because the term "penalty" in New Jersey Traffic Law is defined as "any fine, statutorily-mandated assessment, surcharge or other financial penalty imposed by a municipal court, except restitution or a surcharge assessed" for an Unsafe operation ("no point ticket") offense, which is $250. Remember, penalties are just that, punishment. It is not a debt.

This means the court can convert a penalty into jail time if it sees fit. What is worse, the definition of penalty goes beyond just fines; they include any financial obligation except restitution or a surcharge for a no-point ticket. The court costs are usually about $33 per offense, the Safe Neighborhood Assessments is $75, and the Violent Crime Compensation Board payment is $50.

So What Should I Do?

If you plead guilty to a traffic offense, take it seriously. If you fall behind in payments, be proactive and contact the court to modify the plan. Do not wait for an incident of default to do something; the consequences could be most unpleasant.

If you live in the southern New Jersey area and find yourself in a situation where a failure to pay court fines and costs has caused your traffic court case to spiral out of control, call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation. I may be able to help you get things back on track and prevent some serious consequences.

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