Category Archives: Traffic Offenses

Improper Turn Law New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, the following may constitute a “turn:”
A turn at an intersection
An entry into a driveway or private roadway
A move to the right or left upon a roadway
A deviation from a direct course
A lane change

As a basic regulation for how and in what direction a vehicle must turn, the Motor Vehicle Code enforces that all vehicles turning right must remain close to the right-hand side of the roadway both while approaching a turn and while taking the turning.  The same must also apply for vehicles turning left.

A turn signal must be activated at a continuous rate during, at minimum, the last 100-feet before turning.  There are three key elements of a turn signal offense: a turn, failure to give an appropriate signal, and the presence of other traffic that may be affected by the turn.

The Supreme Court ruled in State v. Williamson (1994), that a signal is only necessary when there is a likely risk of affecting nearby traffic.  This means that a signal is mandatory only if your anticipated movement has the potential, or is “in some degree likely,” to affect another vehicle.  The Williamson case also ruled that a signal should not be used merely as a means of accident avoidance, as motorists driving even within the remote vicinity may be affected by the signaling driver’s movements.  When ruling on the legality of a police vehicle halting a non-signaling vehicle, the court decided that the state need not demonstrate that any other traffic in the area was affected, indicating that the police vehicle itself can qualify as such “affected” traffic.

Failing to signal, either before a turn or before a stop sudden decrease in speed in the state of New Jersey will result in a possible penalty of two motor vehicle points against your driver’s license.

A U-Turn involves a driver turning a vehicle around as a means to proceed in the opposite direction.  U-turns are prohibited in the following situations:
When driving upon a curve
When approaching the nearest crest of a grade
Upon any place on a highway where the view from the vehicle is obstructed within a distance of 500 feet in either direction
Upon a highway that is conspicuously marked with signs stating “no U-turn”**

In order to be punishable by law, an illegally taken U-Turn is not required to be a “true,” 180-degree turn.  In State v. Smith, for instance, the defendant was found guilty of taking an illegal U-Turn after turning left into a driveway on the opposite side of the road before backing out and continuing in the opposite direction.  An improper U-Turn may result in a penalty of up to three points against your driver’s license.

Conversely, Improper Backing or Turning, wherein a vehicle backs or turns onto a street, in a maneuver that interferes with other vehicles on the road, results in a penalty of up to two points against your driver’s license.

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Not Guilty Careless Driving Ticket

Not every careless driving ticket goes to trial. In fact, most don’t. But these cases can be of some consequence.

Careless driving is a two point violation. This isn’t the end of the world and may not create any issues for insurance even if you are convicted. But that is not always the case.

Maybe you have ten points or more on your license and are facing a sixth month suspension from the MVC if you are convicted. Maybe you have a CDL and are concerned about a suspension of your CDL. Maybe there was an accident and there is possible civil personal injury ramifications. Or maybe you are simply not guilty.

In this case, my client was charged with careless driving after he had driven off a poorly marked embankment while exiting a parking lot. After reviewing the scene of the incident and pictures of the signage, I simply felt that he wasn’t guilty.

The prosecutor offered the common plea bargain of unsafe driving which is a zero point downgrade but a $400 fine. My client had no points on his license. I suggested that we go to trial. We did and we won.

I know this isn’t Roe v Wade, but the little cases are an important part of the checks and balances. They remind the government actors that it’s not just another day at the office. And every deserved not guilty verdict reminds me that what I do is important.

Another 39:6B(2) violation dismissed

People run into lots if problems when they get caught driving without insurance. But contrary to what the prosecutor may tell you when you go to court by yourself, there are many good defenses to a no insurance ticket. In fact, my track record and success rate with 39:6B(2) violations  is outstanding.

When I first started practicing law, I had the good fortune of working with a meticulous and experienced lawyer. In one instance, he was defending an individual who had been charged with driving without insurance. He told me about the facts of the case and asked me what I would do to defend it. I answered him directly and said, “first I would read the statute.” He smiled and said “good answer.” You must understand the law that affects the case. In the realm of auto liability insurance and driving without it, there are two different sets of laws that apply. One obviously is Title 39 of the Motor Vehicle Code, specifically 39:6B2. The other is Title 17 of the Administrative Code.

To defend a no insurance case, you better have a thorough understanding of the statutory law and the case-law that has interpreted it. Not every cancelled policy is cancelled correctly. See i.e. State v Hochman.

And not every driver is responsible for knowing the car is uninsured.

There are many legitimate defenses to driving without insurance. Putting those defenses together is not always easy. It can mean dealing with insurance companies, subpoenaing witnesses, and putting in time. Lots of lawyer don’t like this. But I have handles many of these cases and know the proper route to take.

The penalties are stiff… one year loss of license. This is more than a DWI in most cases. To make matters worse, much of the time, there is no accident or incident, just the cops running a plate or pulling someone over for something minor and it comes to light that the vehicle is uninsured.

THERE ARE DEFENSES, speak with a lawyer before you go to court and say something to the prosecutor that you may regret.

You can go to Jail for a Speeding Ticket, But not If I can Help it

The other day, I appeared in a New Jersey municipal court where the presiding judge had just been appointed. The client  I was representing was issued a speeding ticket on the New Jersey Turnpike for going 126 mph. He was also ticketed for reckless driving. Needless to say, I was concerned and so was my client. I had requested all the discovery from the state and it was provided. The radar unit used by the officer to clock my client had been properly tested before and after the shift, and all the certifications were in place and up to date. If I had to go to trial, my defense would have rested on the possible inexperience of the officer operating the instrument, which can be a winning argument, but not one that I really wanted to rely on under these facts.

My biggest concern was the potential for loss of license, which was certainly a possibility due to the high rate of speed. My other concern, although not typically the case, was the imposition of jail time. Many believe that you cannot be sentenced to jail for regular traffic offenses. However, the municipal court judge has the authority to sentence a defendant to jail for just about any traffic infraction. Nonetheless, there is a presumption against imprisonment in most situations.

While waiting to speak with the prosecutor, I was in court sitting with my client as the judge began to put through some plea agreements. You could imagine my concern when the judge informed a defendant (who was represented) who was traveling 110 mph in a 55 mph zone that he would not accept the prosecutor’s plea recommendation and was going to sentence the defendant to jail. He gave the defendant an opportunity to withdraw his plea and set his case down for trial, which he did.

I would like to think that I can win every trial, no matter the circumstance. I was prepared for trial if necessary. If the court was going to back us into a corner, I would come out swinging. But an honest assessment of the case would put the odds in state’s favor. I spoke with the prosecutor, who I had dealt with on several different occasions. He explained that it was the new judge’s policy to sentence people to jail time when they were traveling 100 mph and over. I spoke to him about my nineteen year-old client’s perfect driving record, clean criminal record, college transcripts, volunteer work, etc. I even had my client take a safe driving course before coming to court in hopes to mitigate any proposed plea agreement.

The prosecutor made a recommendation that did not include jail time and agreed to put on the record that he did not feel it was appropriate to sentence my client to jail. I had prepared an argument a few days prior just in case something like this went down. It examined the presumption issue, including case-law to support my claims that it would be legally improper for the judge to sentence my client to jail.

We went before the judge. The prosecutor submitted the plea sheet, and I saw the judge’s face turn red. He advised me immediately that he was not inclined to  accept the plea recommendation, but allowed me to argue my case. After he heard my argument, he informed me that he still could not accept the deal, and I set the case down for trial.

Faced with the prospect of going to jail, my client, who had never received a ticket or had any contact with law enforcement, was reduced to tears. I explained the situation to him, and we began to make our final preparations for trial.

But something inside me said to try again. I went back into the prosecutor’s office and we talked for about ten minutes. He agreed to amend the plea recommendation to include a significant loss of license, which would give me the opportunity to re-argue my case at sentencing.

It seemed like an eternity as I argued again for no jail time, as my client had tears in his eyes. Finally, the judge relented. He admonished my client for a bit, but did not sentence him to jail.

As I left the court with my appreciative client, I was reminded of the importance of preparation. I was prepared for trial, and ultimately the arguments I made during sentencing and my clients freedom were a result of that preparation. But should we had to go to trial with my client’s freedom on the line, I would have been ready.

The lesson here is this; there are no simple cases. This was a speeding ticket after all. But as a lawyer, I can never take anything for granted, and preparation is how one guards against the unforeseen. If we had lost at trial, it is probable the judge would have taken his license AND sentenced him to jail. I was able to not only avoid the jail, but also convince the judge to dismiss the reckless driving ticket, which would have tacked on another five points and another suspension from the Motor Vehicle Commission. And as it turned out, the loss of license was for a fair period of time given the speed. My client was ecstatic with the result given what we were up against.

The odd thing is that in the overwhelming majority of courts, a lawyer does not have to worry about jail for speeding tickets. But knowing that it is a possibility should be reason enough to prepare to the fullest.

NJ License Restoration Attorney, Child Support Suspension, Nonpayment

Child Support accounts are monitored by probation. The State of New Jersey attaches child support obligations to the NJ license number on the account. Therefore, if an individual falls behind on child support payments (called an arrearage), the division of motor vehicles (motor vehicle commission) will be notified and driving privileges will be suspended (revoked). In addition, a child support warrant will be issued for the individual’s arrest. This warrant is typically issued by the county probation department or county court. The license will not be restored until such time as the outstanding child support is paid and the warrant is vacated

It is often the case that the individual who has fallen behind on child support payments owes a large amount of money. As an attorney who represents clients with child support related license suspension, I realize that it may be impossible for some to pay the full amount that is owed all at once. My law firm will communicate with the court and probation to get your case re-listed. We will then work with our client to come up with a REASONABLE child support payment schedule. Attorney Todd Palumbo will present the arrangement to the court. If accepted, my client will make a good faith payment towards the child support obligation, the warrant will be lifted, and the license restored.

Suspensions for non-payment of child support can created a cycle of problems that an experienced attorney can help you avoid. In my experience, many of my clients have accumulated driving while suspended convictions as a result of nonpayment of child support related suspensions. This can lead to jail time and thousands of dollars in surcharges and additional child support related issues.  The problem is fixable. Do not let it continue to snowball and fester. The quicker it it is addressed, the better.

I am a New Jersey license restoration lawyer who provides 24 hr free consultations. Please feel free to contact me with your questions.

I Pleaded Guilty to a Zero Point Ticket, But DMV Still Suspended Me For Points

If you are reading this page, it is safe to say that you are probably in one of the following predicaments.

1) Your license was in a probationary status following either a suspension for points (i.e. persistent violator) or a MVC appeal that resulted in no suspension but imposed a period of probation whereby you were prohibited from receiving any moving motor vehicle violations.

2) Your license was suspended at the time you received the motor vehicle summons, but your were not issued a ticket for it, nor did you realize it, and now NJMVC wants to suspend your driving privileges for six months.

Of course, there could be multiple scenarios that can produce the above quagmire. But here is what you need to know. If you have accumulated a number of points on your New Jersey license, and are in the danger zone for a Motor Vehicle Commision imposed suspension, or you are on probationary status because of a persistent violator situation, just about any moving violation will result in a Division of Motor Vehicles imposed suspension.

Therefore, if you have been issued a NJ traffic ticket for a moving violation, you have some choices, a few of which I discuss below:

1) There are only a few non-moving, no point amendments available in New Jersey. Both Judges and Prosecutors are extremely reluctant to offer these amendments and can only do so in certain situations. Additionally, (and unfortunately), you will most likely need the assistance of  New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer who has experience in the court that you are in and who specializes in this area of the law (such as I do). Believe it or not, obtaining these plea offers is very difficult in most jurisdictions.

2) If step one is not an option, Go to trial. Most traffic violations do not expose the defendant to a court imposed suspension. Fines and points could result upon conviction, but the points are going to expose you to an administration suspension in any event, so why not take a shot. If you win, you are not guilty, and the ticket goes away. However, trial is not always a good option, and there are other, more complicated means by which your ticket may be dismissed. But those procedures are not within the purview of this article. What ever the case may be,  you should consult with a lawyer before making any decisions. Moreover, if you want to got to trial, I would urge you to hire representation to give yourself the best chance to win.

Finally, If it is too late, and you have already received the proposed suspension notice from the Motor Vehicle commission, make sure you appeal the suspension. Once again, it is wise to hire an experienced motor vehicle and DMV appeal attorney for the proceeding. It is often the case that I am able to completely eliminate or dramatically reduce the proposed suspension at the appeal.

Reckless Driving New Jersey

If you have been issued a ticket for reckless driving in NJ, it is important that you understand the harsh consequences that could result if convicted. In addition to five motor vehicle point and insurance eligibility points, there is the possibility of jail and high fines.

Moreover, reckless driving is a enhanceable offense, meaning if you are convicted of reckless driving in New Jersey on more than one occasion, you could face up to three months in jail. If issued a ticket for this serious traffic offense in NJ, contact a traffic ticket attorney and municipal court lawyer who knows how to handle this type of charge.

The section that follows is an excerpt from the Reckless driving statute and some case law snippets that give a brief explination of the type of conduct that may constitute an offense under N.J.S.A. 39:4-96:

39:4-96. A person who drives a vehicle heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of reckless driving and be punished by imprisonment in the county or municipal jail for a period of not more than 60 days, or by a fine of not less than $50.00 or more than $200.00, or both.

On a second or subsequent conviction he shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than three months, or by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500, or both.

Please take a moment to read some of the case synopsis below which may provide a better understanding as to the meaning of such words as “wanton” and “willful.”

In  State v. Willhite, 40 N.J.Super. 405, 123 A.2d 237 (Co.1956), the court held that driving a car through the main business area of a town at a high rate of speed is reckless driving.

The court in State v. Roenicke, 174 N.J.Super. 513, 417 A.2d 54 (L.1980), held that reckless driving, at its core, is grossly improper operation that threatens others.

In State v. Willhite, 40 N.J.Super. 405, 123 A.2d 237 (Co.1956), the court held that speed is not the determining factor when deciding if a motorist acted recklessly.

In other words, the State must prove that your conduct fell far below what would be considered adequate. Put another way, your actions must have been inexplicably and grossly unsafe.

This is not an easy burden for the State to meet, and depending upon the facts of your particular case, there may be many available defenses to a charge of reckless driving.

I have defended many individuals charged with the offense of reckless driving and have obtained excellent results. If you have any questions, please feel free to call.