Most of us have experienced that sinking feeling that comes from being pulled over for driving faster than the posted speed limit on the roadway. If that happened to you and you were lucky enough to get away with a warning to “watch your speed,” be thankful and take the officer’s words to heart.
If you weren’t that lucky and the police officer issued you a citation for speeding, you may be wondering whether it’s worth it to try to fight the ticket or if you should just pay the fine and move on.
What New Jersey Law Says About Speeding
New Jersey uses a “point” system for traffic violations – these points are assessed against your driving record. A single speeding ticket for driving up to 14 miles per hour over the posted limit means you’ll end up with two points on your record; if you’re going 15-29 miles per hour too fast, you’re facing four points. Driving more than 30 miles per hour too fast will put five points on your record and also may result in a license suspension.
If you accumulate too many points, you run the risk of surcharges in addition to the fines and court costs that come with the tickets themselves. You even run the risk of losing your driving privileges if you accumulate too many points.
Fighting a Speeding Ticket Can Be Worthwhile
Although it takes a little effort, fighting a speeding ticket in Bergen County, NJ can be worth your time and effort in a few different ways.
First, when you fight your ticket, you may be able to lower the amount of the assessed fine and you may be able to lower or remove the assessed points entirely. This can help keep your driving record clean and help you avoid a situation where your license is suspended or you accumulate added surcharges.
From a purely financial standpoint, it makes sense to fight your speeding ticket, too. If you don’t fight the ticket, you may be dealing with higher auto insurance premiums for many years after you were pulled over – that added expense over time can far outweigh the cost of the initial ticket.
Steps Involved in Fighting a Speeding Ticket in Bergen County
If you decide to fight your Bergen County speeding ticket, here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Identify the correct municipality. Traffic tickets are handled by one of 21 different municipal traffic courts in Bergen County, NJ. Your first step should be to identify the correct municipality where the speeding incident occurred. That information should appear on the citation you received.
- Pay attention to dates and timing. You have a limited amount of time to make a decision about paying your fine or fighting the charges. Pay attention to the date listed on your traffic citation – you’ll need to take action before that date in order to avoid additional legal consequences.
- Schedule a hearing before a municipal judge. Every one of the 21 municipal courts in Bergen County sets their own schedules and dockets for cases. If you’re fighting your traffic ticket on your own, you’ll need to call as soon as possible to get on the calendar.
- Attend your hearing and make your case. When the date and time for your hearing arrives, you’ll need to plead your case. This is your chance to explain why you believe the fine and/or points should be reduced or thrown out entirely.
- Pay court costs. There are expenses associated with scheduling a hearing to fight a speeding ticket. You’re responsible for paying those expenses.
- Comply with the judge’s decision. If the Municipal Court judge determines that a fine is still appropriate, you will be responsible for making timely payment, as directed.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you read the above steps and found yourself thinking “that’s a lot of work,” you’re right! Fighting a speeding ticket in Bergen County can be a lot of work. However, it can be worth it.
While you could choose to fight your speeding ticket on your own, hiring an attorney to do it for you can help you put your best foot forward. An experienced traffic violations defense attorney can take a lot of the stress out of fighting your ticket and can help position your defense in the best possible light.
If you decide to hire a lawyer to help you, choose an attorney and law firm with experience in the Bergen County Municipal Court that has jurisdiction over your speeding ticket. Being familiar with the system and process and knowing the Municipal Court judge will not guarantee that you will have a positive outcome. However, it can give your attorney an edge, helping him or her represent you to the best of their ability.
Talk to the attorneys you are considering hiring and ask them some questions:
- Have you handled cases similar to mine before?
- How will you defend me against the speeding charge?
- What was the outcome in the Municipal Court?
- How are attorney’s fees and court costs handled?
Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. After all, your driving privileges may depend on the answers. When you find an experienced, knowledgeable attorney, you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you don’t need to fight your Bergen County speeding ticket on your own.