“Do you know why I pulled you over?” This is not a question anyone wants to hear. Answer “no” and it will appear to the officer that you weren’t paying attention while you were driving.
Answer “yes” and you are half way to undermining your defense against the ticket the officer is writing.
If your offense was speeding, you knew that as soon as you glanced at your speedometer after the flashing lights of the police cruiser appeared in your rear-view mirror.
So what do you do? Should you fight the ticket or simply pay the fine, accept the points and swear to yourself you’ll never do it again?
Whether you should fight a speeding ticket depends on whether you can afford not to. If you have a solid driving record and haven’t had many, if any, prior moving violations, it may not be worth your while.
If your ticket also included other charges such as reckless or careless driving or a DWI chances are your fine for speeding will be fairly low. The number of driver points the MVC will charge against your record will probably also be low.
If, however, this is not your first speeding ticket or you already have points against your record, successfully fighting the ticket may protect your driving privileges and keep your auto insurance at an acceptable rate. Before we examine how to fight a speeding ticket in Passaic County, a brief discussion of New Jersey motor vehicle law is in order.
Driving in New Jersey – The Points System
Driving in this state is a privilege, not a right. When it comes to your driver’s license, the Motor Vehicle Commission giveth and the Motor Vehicle Commission taketh away, so to speak. The primary mechanism by which the state regulates who does and doesn’t drive in New Jersey is the point system.
The MVC adds points to your record for moving violations. Penalties are increased as your points total rises. If you accumulate 6 or more points on your driving record within three years you will be assessed a surcharge payable annually for 3 years. The amount of the surcharge is $150 for the first 6 points and an additional $25 for each additional point.
An accumulation of 12 or more points on your driving record will result in a suspension of your license. In addition to the penalties imposed by the MVC, you can also expect an increase in your insurance rates.
Speeding violations result in the following driver’s points:
- Exceeding maximum speed 1 – 14 mph over limit
- 2 points
- Exceeding maximum speed 15-29 mph over limit
- 4 points
- Exceeding maximum speed 30 mph or more over limit
- 5 points.
- Racing on a highway also results in 5 points.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your speeding violation, you may also be issued a citation for careless driving (which carries 2 driver points) or reckless driving (which carries 5 driver points).
As you can see from the points schedule, you can go from 0 to 12 points very quickly. Fighting your speeding ticket is, therefore, something you should seriously consider.
How to fight a speeding ticket in Passaic County.
While possible to fight your ticket without an attorney, doing so is not recommended. A lawyer with experience handling motor vehicle violation cases is equipped to preserve your interests and protect your rights.
As the point system above demonstrates, a speeding ticket may not, by itself, threaten your driving status. Combined with other violations within a 3 year period or with a charge such as reckless driving your speeding ticket may place you at risk of a license suspension.
There are a wealth of competent attorneys in New Jersey. Not all of them are well-suited for cases involving traffic violations. These cases require a keen understanding of the issues. They also require the expertise required to gather, analyze and present the evidence necessary for a successful plea bargain, an acquittal or even a complete dismissal of the charges.
Things to consider when hiring a lawyer to fight your speeding ticket.
Quite simply, how many years has the attorney been engaged in practice and how many cases were handled during those years? The more experienced the lawyer, the greater the chance that he or she is competent.
Experience handling motor vehicle violation cases.
Each area of law is unique and has its own set of laws and procedural rules and quirks. Only a lawyer comfortable operating in a specific area has the knowledge and skill set necessary to identify the issues surrounding your case. Extensive experience also enables an attorney to accurately evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Should your speeding ticket case end up in court, you will want an attorney who has a successful trial track record. Introducing relevant evidence and warding off prosecution challenges, to name just two examples, are skills that can only be acquired through representing clients in court.
The most important component of any attorney-client relationship is trust. There can be no trust if you and your attorney are unable to communicate honestly. Does the lawyer clearly communicate the expectations he or she has of you? Does the attorney care what your expectations are?
Talk to an attorney at Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith openly about your case and your concerns. Ask questions. Find out what the attorney thinks of the chances for a successful outcome (and why).
You have work to do as well. Your lawyer will want you to remain calm. Emotion clouds judgment. Stay focused.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind whenever you are issued a citation of any kind: Never admit guilt. Waging a successful fight against the ticket will become difficult, if not impossible, if you admitted to wrongdoing previously.
Remember: points can add up quickly and when it comes to driving points, high score does not win.