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When (and How) Should You Fight a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey?

April 5, 2023 | Posted In Municipal Court |

You got a traffic ticket in New Jersey. Should you fight it? Or should you pay the fine and move on with your life? Many people simply choose to pay. But, while paying the fine might seem like the easiest and least expensive option, this often isn’t the case. For many drivers, the least-costly option is to hire a New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer to fight their citation in court.

When you get a traffic ticket, the fine listed on the ticket is just one of many costs you are likely to incur if you choose not to fight. In addition to the fine, you could incur surcharges based on the number of points on your driving record, and your auto insurance premiums could increase substantially. As a result, while paying the ticket might be your cheapest option right now, doing so could cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the next few years.

Understanding What It Means to Pay a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

To understand why traffic tickets can be so expensive, it is first necessary to understand what it means to pay a traffic ticket in New Jersey. When you pay the fine listed on your ticket, this does not make your ticket go away. Rather, paying the fine equates to pleading guilty to the offense for which you got pulled over. And if you received a ticket as a result of a traffic accident, it can present other issues as well. Remember, a guilty plea goes on your permanent driving record, and you will face all the resulting consequences. These consequences can be unforeseen and detrimental to you. 

When to Fight a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

When should you fight a traffic ticket in New Jersey? The simple answer is that you should always consult with a lawyer after receiving a ticket. As we discuss below, there are several potential ways to fight a traffic ticket in New Jersey—and if you have grounds to get your ticket dismissed, fighting your ticket could be your least expensive option by far.

If this is the case, why do so few people fight their traffic tickets? There seem to be two primary reasons. First, many people simply don’t understand the consequences of paying the fine. Second, fighting a traffic ticket isn’t easy. Navigating the traffic court process is challenging, and even if you have strong defenses available, you can still end up losing in court without an experienced New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer on your side.

When you hire a lawyer, your lawyer will explain everything you need to know. Your lawyer will also represent you in court. This means that your lawyer will speak with the judge on your behalf, challenge the prosecutor’s evidence and arguments, and fight to ensure that you are not punished unfairly.

3 Potential Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

So, how can a lawyer help you fight your New Jersey traffic ticket? If you received a ticket for a traffic violation after getting pulled over in New Jersey, your lawyer may be able to assert one or more of the following defenses on your behalf:

1. You Didn’t Violate the Law

One way to fight your traffic ticket is by arguing that you didn’t violate the law. For example, let’s say the police cited you for making an improper U-turn, but you fully complied with New Jersey’s U-turn statute (N.J.S.A. Section 39:4-125) when turning around. Or, maybe the police cited you for failing to keep right (in violation of N.J.S.A. Section 39:4-82), but you had a valid reason for driving to the left under the statute. If your lawyer can show that the police ticketed you improperly, then you should not be forced to bear the financial consequences of getting ticketed.

2. The Prosecutor Cannot Prove that You Violated the Law

Even if you violated one of New Jersey’s traffic laws, you are not guilty until proven guilty in court. If the prosecutor cannot prove that you violated the law, then you are entitled to have your traffic ticket dismissed.

How can a New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer prevent the prosecutor from proving that you are guilty? Depending on the type of ticket you received, some examples of arguments your lawyer may be able to assert on your behalf include:

  • The device used to calculate vehicle speed was not properly maintained or calibrated (or prosecutors cannot prove that it was properly maintained and calibrated);
  • The police officer cannot adequately explain how you were being “careless” or “reckless” behind the wheel; or,
  • There is no reliable evidence that you failed to signal, failed to come to a complete stop, were following too closely or passed another vehicle improperly.

3. The Police Violated Your Rights

Your lawyer may also be able to help you avoid a guilty verdict by arguing that the police violated your rights. For example, if the police stopped you without reasonable suspicion (i.e., they profiled you based on your race, color or gender), they may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights. If your lawyer can prove that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights, your lawyer can use this to fight your ticket in the traffic court.

While these are all potential defenses, it is important to keep in mind that the defenses you can use to fight your traffic ticket depend on the facts of your particular case. Not everyone who gets pulled over is innocent, and the police don’t always make mistakes. Determining what defenses you have available requires a careful assessment of the circumstances surrounding your traffic stop and citation. When you hire a New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will examine the facts of your case to determine which defenses he or she can use to minimize your financial costs.

Schedule an Appointment with a New Jersey Traffic Ticket Lawyer

Did you get a traffic ticket in New Jersey? If so, we encourage you to speak with one of our lawyers about the options you have available. To request an appointment with a New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online now.

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