“I was in a hurry that morning, and I was supposed to be there already…and I guess I was a little over the limit…but when I looked on-line I saw that I could not only get points which will make my insurance go up; but that could also lose my license. I need my license to get to work, and to take care of my family. I live in an area of N.J. where there is no public transportation. What will happen when I go to Court?”
Excuses and explanations worked best when you were talking to Mom, not to an officer during a traffic stop when caught speeding. While almost everyone drives over the posted speed limit at some point, there are limitations on when an officer might not stop you, and on when a Judge might not suspend your license. There are no hard and fast rules to this, and your own common sense will have to guide you when it comes to the risk you create for others and yourself when you exceed the speed limit by more than a few miles an hour. From a law enforcement and Court perspective, being late does not qualify as a reason to speed. When you get more than 10+ mph over the limit and the speed the other vehicles are traveling, you are going to have to change lanes more frequently…and risk causing the other vehicles to have to hit their brakes to avoid you. That is often when you draw the attention of the police officer, who then stops you and issues tickets for what they saw you do to the other drivers, in addition to the speeding ticket.
In the Municipal Courts, prosecutors can reduce the penalties by offering you a plea, but despite that, many Judges in the New Jersey Municipal Court are imposing a loss of license when they have cases where the speeding tickets indicate that you were traveling more than 20-30 mph over the limit. While many tickets can be pled down to a lesser offense, NJ Judges are more frequently not accepting a disposition without suspending your license in these types of excessive speed cases. In addition, even if the Judge were willing to forego suspending your license, the NJ MVC dropped their ‘no-action’ policy a while ago, and is administratively suspending the driver’s license when they think the Judge should have, but didn’t, issue a suspension.
The argument that you were ‘just keeping up with the traffic’ is not a defense when caught speeding, even if everyone else was doing it too. You were the one stopped, and you are the one who will have to deal with the tickets. The only alternative to accepting a loss of license is often to fight the case, first in the Municipal Court; possibly through an appeal, and, if necessary, by requesting a hearing before the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission when you are sent a notice of suspension from the MVC. Challenging the speed reading is done by knowing the types of calibration documents and certifications the prosecutor will need to have to prosecute the ticket in regards to the specific speed measuring device the police used in your case, and requesting that documentation in discovery. This often involves multiple Court appearances, and you paying your lawyer to ‘bring the fight’ for your defense. Again, the question you need to consider is ‘what is your license worth to you?’ The problem is that these types of speeding tickets are often sufficient once proven, even without you having a prior record of moving violations, to result in a suspension by the Court, and sometimes a suspension by the MVC. Worse, a MVC suspension is always served consecutively to the loss of license imposed by the Court.
So, when a potential client asks me ‘How do I fight this?’ or ‘What will happen now?’ I typically start by asking them, ‘What is your license worth to you?’ Questions you need to be considering: If you are willing to fight for your license, what are the limits on contesting the State’s case? Are you prepared to fight this long-term? Are you ready to spend the time and financial resources to try to avoid the suspension in the Court…in the MVC? If the answer is yes to these questions, retain a lawyer with experience in fighting speeding tickets – not just experience in reducing the points and the period of suspension, as these are no longer (if they are were) a ‘do-it-yourself’ type of defense.
My name is Howard Bailey, and I’m a NJ criminal defense lawyer, with more than 40 years of experience in the field of criminal law. My law practice, The Law Office of Howard W. Bailey, LLC, is located in Newark NJ and I devote all of my practice to defending clients charged with criminal offenses in the State and Municipal Courts of New Jersey. This blog is intended to address the serious issues that can impact the outcome of a criminal case, and at the same time inject a little humor to provide some relief from the seriousness of the problems facing those charged with criminal offenses. If you are under investigation or have been charged with a criminal offense in NJ, please contact me at my office, 973-982-1200. View more posts at www.njlawtalk.com
The information contained in this blog post is intended as marketing, not advertising, as is more fully stated in the Disclaimer Page of this blog site. This post is strictly intended for general informational purposes only, and DOES NOT constitute legal advice on any legal matter in N.J. or in any other jurisdiction.
No attorney-client relationship is intended, offered or established by this information, even if it is similar in nature to a situation you are facing. Should you be confronted with a criminal prosecution or investigation, you are strongly advised to consult immediately with an experienced criminal defense lawyer licensed in the State or jurisdiction where the charges are filed, with whom you will have an attorney-client relationship, and can obtain legal advice on how to best handle your issues. This direct consultation should be done before you make any decisions in regards to your legal issue.