A New Jersey traffic ticket can effect far more than just your wallet. Most drivers are aware that a traffic ticket comes with a fine and possibly points on your license. However, what many do not understand is that there can be additional costs.
Besides the basic fine and points, there can state surcharges, increased insurance premiums, insurance penalties, license suspension and revocation, and even jail. Thus, it makes sense to consult a lawyer before you enter a guilty plea by paying a ticket.
The Basics: Fines and Points
Most traffic tickets show you the traffic law that you allegedly violated, and the fine you must pay if you want to plead guilty to the charge. Indeed, when you pay the fine listed on the ticket, you are pleading guilty as charged to the offense. This can be problematic when the alleged offense is a points-offense.
The NJ points system was designed to encourage lawful operation of motor vehicles, deter drivers from breaking the traffic laws, and to remove the most dangerous, repeat offenders from the road.
In New Jersey, drivers who earn 6 or more points within a 3-year period must pay a surcharge to the state. Drivers who accumulate 12 or more points will have their licenses automatically suspended. And every 12 month period a driver goes without a points offense, they will have 3 points deducted from their license.
If you earn 6 or more points on your driving record within a three-year period, the state will charge a $150 surcharge, plus $25 more for each additional point past 6. This kind of surcharge based on points must be paid every year for three years, which is how long it takes points to come off of your driving record.
Other state surcharges can be incurred for specific offenses, as listed on the NJ MVC website, which include:
- $100 for unlicensed driver or driver with expired license ($300 total)
- $250 for driving with a suspended license ($750 total)
- $100 for failure to insure a moped ($300 total)
- $250 for operating an uninsured vehicle ($750 total)
- $1,000 for first and second driving while intoxicated (DWI) ($3,000 total)
- $1,500 third DWI (if it occurs within three years last offense) ($4,500 total)
- $1,000 for refusing to take test to measure blood alcohol concentration ($3,000 total)
On top of those costs, keep in mind that anyone who does not pay assessed surcharges can have their license suspended.
Anytime you receive a driving violation that carries points, your insurance carrier will receive notice of the details of your infraction. Studies have shown that drivers with higher points and more traffic violations carry a higher risk of accident. Therefore, most insurance companies charge higher premiums to drivers with points on their license, as they are deemed a higher risk to insure.
Thus, while the fine for a points-offense ticket may seem relatively small, if you plead guilty as charged to the ticket you could be inviting more significant, additional costs that could haunt you for some time.
How Can You Fight These Costs?
If you receive a ticket, you may consider fighting it in court. Experienced legal counsel can help you minimize the impact of points on your license, or completely wipe out any points in a negotiated plea deal or at trial. Contact a lawyer at The Reinartz Law Firm to discuss your case.