“I didn’t know I was going that fast.”
We live in a fast-paced world. Whether in our work or personal lives, we find ourselves rushing from place to place and from one task to another. In our effort to get as much done in as little time as possible, we often end up being in too much of a hurry.
We forget things. We make mistakes. And sometimes, in our haste, we end up doing something the consequences of which are greater than if we had simply been late. Like getting a speeding ticket, for example.
Few things in life cause more of a sinking feeling than looking up and seeing the flashing lights of New Jersey’s finest quickly filling your rear view mirror. The initial momentary shock and a quick look down at your speedometer is followed by the cold realization that you’re about to be issued a “traffic citation” in the form of a speeding ticket.
Assuming you didn’t drink and drive, weren’t involved in a motor vehicle accident or weren’t driving carelessly or recklessly, it’s really not that big of a deal, right?
Not necessarily. Although not the worst traffic offense by any means, driving at an excessive speed can still result in some serious consequences, especially if this ticket isn’t your “first offense”.
DMV and insurance points are likely and the accumulation of too many of one or both may seriously impact your ability to get to work, to shop, to meet family and other social obligations or to simply take that long drive you so enjoy. For these reasons, hiring a speeding ticket lawyer in Passaic County may be the smartest thing you can do.
New Jersey law and speeding.
First, a little bit about New Jersey law related to speeding. As the website for the State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission reminds us:
Driving is a privilege, not a right. If you break traffic laws, your driving privileges could be suspended or revoked resulting in fines and even imprisonment. The seriousness of your violations – and resulting penalties – are tracked by MVC using a point system.
If you are convicted of a moving violation, MVC will penalize you by adding points to your driving record. You will only get points on your record for moving violations – points are not assessed for parking and other violations. A table is provided for more information on the number of points earned for specific violations.
According to the New Jersey Statutes Annotated point schedule, the penalties for speeding are as follow:
- Exceeding the maximum permitted speed by 1 to 14 miles per hour (MPH) results in 2 points.
- Exceeding the maximum permitted speed by from 15 to 29 MPH results in 4 points.
- Exceeding the maximum permitted speed by 30 MPH or more results in 5 points.
- It is possible that your speeding ticket may carry with it a companion citation for reckless driving.
- If so, you have an altogether different set of problems because a reckless driving violation results in:
- 5 motor vehicle points and 5 insurance points; and
- A fine of up to $200; or
- A jail term of up to 60 days for a first offense and up to three months for a second or subsequent offense.
- Although not automatic, the court has the discretion to suspend your license indefinitely.
You should also know:
- Once you accumulate 6 or more points within any three-year period, the MVC will issue you a mandatory surcharge (for which the failure to pay may lead to a license suspension)
- 12 points or more accumulated on a driving record will result in a license suspension
- Points accumulation on your driving record will invariably result in increased insurance rates
- Remember too that not all speeding violations are created equal, so to speak. Being cited for doing 10 miles over the limit on a highway with light traffic is not considered as serious as doing 35 MPH in a school zone where the limit is 25 MPH.
All of this means that you should contest any speeding ticket in an effort to minimize the effect it has on your driving record. Unless you have experience in dealing with such matters, you are well-advised to hire a speeding ticket lawyer in Passaic County, NJ.
Choosing a lawyer.
Make no mistake, successfully fighting a speeding ticket takes experience, especially if a motor vehicle accident or other charges such as reckless driving or driving under the influence are involved. There are several factors to consider to determine whether the lawyer you choose has the experience you need, especially given all that is at stake:
Law school attended.
Some are better than others. If possible, hire an attorney who graduated from a reputable, accredited law school.
Number of years in practice.
The more years in practice, the more likely it is that the attorney has encountered many different scenarios and gathered deep knowledge about various areas of law. Both of these factors will equip him or her to successfully handle whatever circumstances your case may involve.
Experience handling speeding ticket and other moving violation matters.
New Jersey is home to many capable attorneys. However, not all of them can claim to be proficient in dealing with moving violation cases. You’ll want to find out how many traffic cases the lawyer has handled and what his or her success rate was.
Because some speeding cases go to trial, you will want your attorney to feel comfortable in the courtroom. Knowing not only what evidence to gather but how to introduce that evidence at trial is essential to effective legal representation.
For example, a good trial lawyer has the ability to carefully listen to testimony of witnesses and respond with the appropriate redirect examination of his/her witness or cross-examination of the witnesses for the other side.
All the trial preparation in the world will do you no good if your lawyer isn’t able to present it in an organized and persuasive manner.
If you are issued a speeding ticket, the temptation may be to shrug it off, pay the fine, and go about your business. For some, this may be perfectly acceptable, especially if they have accumulated no points on their driving record and their insurance costs are reasonable.
If you are not among that group, however, taking a speeding ticket lightly may come back to haunt you, especially if you have already racked up driver and/or insurance points. While you may not think fighting the ticket is worth the cost, ask yourself this simple question: Can you really afford not to?