Failing to Respond To A Traffic Ticket in NJ
Getting a traffic ticket is a common experience for many drivers. However, what happens if you don’t respond to a traffic ticket in New Jersey? It’s important to understand the consequences and your options. Start by consulting a New Jersey traffic ticket defense lawyer.
Understanding the Statute
In New Jersey, the law mandates a response to a traffic ticket within a specified period. Various statutes and court rules govern this requirement. While no specific statute directly states the obligation to respond to a traffic ticket within a set timeframe, the overall process is set out in Title 39 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes and New Jersey Court Rule 7:12.
Title 39: Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation
Title 39 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes covers many motor vehicle and traffic regulations. This title encompasses a range of rules, from vehicle registration to driving under the influence, and is a key source of law for traffic-related offenses in New Jersey.
New Jersey Court Rule 7:12
Rule 7:12, particularly section 7:12-4, outlines the functioning of the Violations Bureau in New Jersey. This bureau is responsible for handling non-indictable offenses, which typically include traffic violations. The rule specifies how the violations clerk can accept appearances, waiver of trial, pleas of guilty, and payments of fines and costs. Importantly, it also addresses the procedures for responding to summonses for traffic offenses.
What This Means for Responding to Traffic Tickets
When you receive a traffic ticket in New Jersey, it’s crucial to respond within the time frame indicated on the ticket, usually within 30 days. According to Rule 7:12-4(d), a person charged with an offense within the authority of the violations clerk may pay the established fines, costs, and penalties either by mail or in person to the violations clerk on or before the return date of the summons. This action is considered a plea of guilty and waives the right to a trial. However, if the summons is marked to indicate that a court appearance is required, payment cannot be made to the violations clerk, even if the offense is on the Statewide Violations Bureau Schedule.
Suspension of Driving Privileges
Another consequence of not responding to a traffic ticket is the suspension of your driver’s license. The New Jersey courts will notify the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend your driving privileges. This suspension is immediate and can affect your ability to renew a driver’s license, even one issued by another state.
Additional Charges and Penalties
Failing to appear in court can escalate the legal issue significantly. It can result in a suspension of driving privileges, issuing an arrest warrant, revocation of bail, and potentially losing the right to have your case heard. For traffic violations, if it’s the first missed court date, a failure to appear notice is sent out, and failure to comply with this notice can lead to an arrest warrant and license suspension.
If you don’t pay the fines and penalties imposed by a New Jersey traffic court, the first step is usually a notice ordering you to appear in court and explain why you haven’t paid. Ignoring this hearing can result in an arrest warrant or suspension of your driver’s license. Additionally, the court can convert unpaid penalties into jail time, including fines and other financial obligations like court costs, Safe Neighborhood Assessments, and Violent Crime Compensation Board payments. The court has the discretion to impose jail time if it deems fit, highlighting the seriousness of not addressing traffic fines and penalties.
The Importance of Taking Immediate Action
If you cannot attend your court date for valid reasons, inform the court immediately and try to reschedule. Ignoring the situation or failing to appear in court can lead to severe consequences.
It’s also advisable to contact a New Jersey traffic ticket attorney, especially if you’re facing challenges in managing the situation. An experienced attorney can assist in fighting the charges and avoiding conviction, and they become even more necessary if a court date is missed.
How a Defense Lawyer Can Help
Consulting with a lawyer is a good first step if you’ve missed the deadline or are overwhelmed. Here’s how a lawyer can assist:
- Navigating Legal Procedures: Lawyers understand the legal system and can guide you through the process of responding to your ticket, even if the deadline has passed.
- Negotiating Penalties: Experienced lawyers can negotiate the penalties or fines, making them more manageable.
- Representing in Court: If your case goes to court, a lawyer can represent you, advocating for the best possible outcome.
What You Should Do
If you have a traffic ticket in New Jersey, here are some steps you should take:
- Respond Promptly: Whether you decide to pay the fine or contest the ticket, make sure to respond within the given deadline.
- Consider Legal Advice: Getting legal advice can be beneficial if you’re unsure about how to proceed or if you’ve missed your deadline.
- Prepare for Court: If you choose to contest the ticket, prepare for your court appearance or have a lawyer represent you.
Contact a NJ Traffic Defense Lawyer
Dealing with a traffic ticket can be stressful, but you don’t have to handle it alone. If you’re facing issues related to a traffic ticket in New Jersey, seeking legal help can make a significant difference. Don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance.