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Buckle Up: New Jersey Criminal Attorneys Discuss State’s Seatbelt Law

December 11, 2012 | Posted In Criminal Law - Motor Vehicle Accidents, Negligence |

Wearing your seatbelt is one of the first steps in safe driving, New Jersey criminal attorneys say, but many drivers may soon find that failing to buckle up is not only unsafe, but criminal activity as well. The New Jersey Appellate Division has declared that driving or riding without wearing a seatbelt is a predicate offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:40-18, and criminal charges for violating public safety can result from a failure to wear a seatbelt in the car. The Appellate Division’s decision stemmed from an accident involving two teenage girls. The girls were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, and the 17-year-old driver had inhalants in her system. The 16-year-old passenger died in the accident, and the driver was charged with vehicular homicide and violating the public safety law.

N.J.S.A. 2C:40-18 penalizes any person who knowingly violates health and public safety laws in New Jersey. Under this law, failing to wear your seatbelt violates your own safety, and can have serious legal repercussions. The severity of the offense is determined by the bodily injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. If a car accident results in the death of the drivers or their passengers, and some or all of the injured parties were not wearing seatbelts, New Jersey criminal lawyers warn that the drivers can be charged with a crime of the second degree.

Even if you are not in an accident, driving or riding without a seatbelt can be costly. In New Jersey, a violation of the seat belt law is a secondary offense, but during state “Click It or Ticket” campaigns, drivers can be ticketed at checkpoints for failing to wear a seatbelt, even if they are not caught in any other driving violation. At other times, you must be pulled over for speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, or another driving offense before you can be ticketed for a seatbelt violation.

The driver is responsible for ensuring that all passengers are wearing their seatbelts, New Jersey criminal lawyers say. If the driver is pulled over for a traffic violation and any passengers are not wearing seat belts, the driver is fined $46 for failure to comply with New Jersey’s safety laws. The driver can also face charges in accidents where his or her passengers were injured as a result of not wearing a seat belt.

The New Jersey criminal lawyers at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman remind everyone to buckle up, and offer experienced legal counsel to anyone facing criminal charges.

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