You may have recently been cited or ticketed for a NJ unsafe driving violation. What does it mean and why is it important to understand the law?
Over the past 35 years, our firm has represented hundreds of clients who received traffic tickets for violations of the New Jersey traffic laws. In New Jersey, traffic tickets can involve an assessment of motor vehicle points, payment of fines, suspension of driving privileges, surcharges and court costs (or a combination thereof). Most clients are concerned about the imposition of motor vehicle points because an assessment of points on your record can lead to an increased likelihood of a driver’s license suspension or an increase in automobile insurance rates.
In this article, I will discuss [N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.2], commonly known as “unsafe operation” or “unsafe driving violation.” An unsafe driving violation operates as a “catch-all” provision that broadly states:
“(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, it shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner likely to endanger a person or property…”
Offenses, Fines and Penalties for an NJ Unsafe Driving Violation
A first unsafe driving violation is subject to a fine of not less than $50.00 nor more than $150.00. Importantly, no motor vehicle penalty points are assessed to first time offenders.
A second unsafe driving violation is subject to a fine of not less than $100.00 nor more than $250.00. As with a first offense, no motor vehicle points are assessed to second time offenders.
A third or subsequent unsafe driving violation is subject to a fine of not less than $200.00 nor more than $500.00. However, four motor vehicle points will be assessed to your record.
An offense, however, that occurs more than five years after a prior offense for the same violation will not be considered a subsequent offense for purposes of assessing motor vehicle penalty points. In addition to any fine, fee or charge imposed by the Court, a person convicted of this unsafe driving offense will be assessed a surcharge of $250.00.
A crucial benefit of unsafe driving violation, when compared to harsher offenses, is that no motor vehicle points are assessed until a driver is convicted of a third or subsequent offense, only if that third or subsequent offense occurs within five years of a prior conviction for the same “unsafe driving” offense.
Do I need a lawyer for an unsafe driving violation?
Before you plead guilty to any NJ unsafe driving violation or traffic ticket and incur fines, fees, potential points on your driving record, or suspension of your driving privileges, you should consider speaking with an experienced attorney about your legal matter. An experienced attorney may likely be able to assist the client and mitigate a violation to avoid an unwanted and costly outcome.
For more information regarding the New Jersey Driver Points System read our article.