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 better.

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 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 pleaded to an "unsafe operation" in the past five years, 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 pleaded to this once before in the past five years and are a second offender,  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 with points, you should pull your driving abstract and discuss your options with an attorney.  Many times, a simple two-point ticket will not have any significant impact.

If you were traveling more than 14 mph over the speed limit and are facing a four or five-point speeding ticket, or, for example, a reckless driving ticket (five points), it might be better to plead the offense down to a two-point speeding ticket or a reckless to a careless, which only carries two points.  You should also check with your insurance agent to see if the points would impact your auto premiums.

When looking at your options, consider the following:

Points can also be removed at some point in the future. For example, you can remove two points by taking a defensive driving program the Motor Vehicle Commission offers.  A Driver Improvement or Probationary Driver Program can remove three points.  Even just going one year with no violations or suspensions will remove three points.

The bottom line here is that a couple of points on your license is not the end of the world, especially if you work with an experienced New Jersey traffic court lawyer who can explain all of your options to you. 

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