Are you a driver in New Jersey concerned about the legal implications of driving too slowly? You should be. New Jersey law explicitly addresses this concern under statute 39:4-97.1. This law makes it illegal to drive at such a slow speed that you impede or block the normal and reasonable flow of traffic. It’s not just about speeding; driving too slowly can also land you in hot water. Here’s everything you need to know about this particular New Jersey traffic law.
What Does 39:4-97.1 Say?
The New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 39:4-97.1, clearly states that no person should drive a motor vehicle at a speed that is so slow it hampers or obstructs the normal and reasonable movement of other vehicles on the road. Simply put, if you’re driving at a snail’s pace and causing a bottleneck, you are in violation of this law.
Exceptions To The Rule
While the law sounds straightforward, there are exceptions. The statute permits reduced speed if it is necessary for the safe operation of your vehicle or if you’re adhering to another law. For example, if you’re navigating through a construction zone with posted speed reductions or if there’s inclement weather like heavy rain or snow, driving slowly is not only allowed but advisable.
Why Does This Law Exist?
You might wonder why there’s a need for a law against slow driving. The primary reason is traffic efficiency. Traffic moves smoothly when everyone drives at a consistent, reasonable speed. Extremely slow driving can lead to dangerous situations like road rage, overtaking, and even accidents. Therefore, this law aims to ensure the safe and reasonable flow of traffic by preventing unnecessary slow driving.
Who Does This Law Mainly Affect?
The primary audience affected by this New Jersey traffic law would be any motor vehicle operator who, for whatever reason, is driving significantly below the speed limit without a valid cause. If caught, such individuals could find themselves faced with a traffic offense that might require the assistance of an experienced traffic offense lawyer.
When Can You Be Charged?
Enforcement of this law is generally at the discretion of law enforcement officers. If an officer observes that your slow driving is causing a backup or creating a hazardous condition, you may be pulled over and cited for violating 39:4-97.1.
Implications Of Violating 39:4-97.1
Being found in violation of this law could lead to various penalties, including fines and points on your driver’s license. In New Jersey, this offense is punishable by an $86 fine and two points on your driver’s license.
Not only could this affect your driving record, but it could also potentially increase your insurance premiums. Therefore, it’s critical to be aware of your speed and how it impacts other road users.
Potential Defenses To 39:4-97.1 Violations In New Jersey
Necessity For Safe Operation
The statute itself provides a window for defense by stating that reduced speed is permissible when “necessary for safe operation.” Therefore, if you can demonstrate that your slow speed was essential for safe driving, you may have a valid defense. Examples could include poor road conditions due to weather, like fog, heavy rain, or snow. Another instance could be if your vehicle was experiencing mechanical issues that made it unsafe to drive at higher speeds.
Lack Of Traffic Impediment
Another potential defense could be the argument that your slow driving was not actually impeding the normal and reasonable flow of traffic. Perhaps the roads were largely empty, or maybe you were driving in a lane designated for slower traffic. In this case, you could argue that even though you were driving slowly, you were not obstructing other vehicles, and thus not in violation of the law.
New Jersey law does allow for certain emergency conditions to be considered when determining the reasonableness of a driver’s actions. If you had a medical emergency or were dealing with another urgent situation that necessitated slow driving, this could potentially serve as a defense.
Officer’s Discretion Questioned
Law enforcement discretion plays a significant role in the enforcement of 39:4-97.1. As the statute is somewhat subjective, citing what constitutes “normal and reasonable” traffic flow, you could argue that the officer’s judgment was flawed or biased in determining that your driving speed was causing an impediment.
Compliance With Another Law
The statute allows for reduced speed “in compliance with law.” This means that if you were driving slowly because you were obeying another traffic law, you may be able to use this as a defense. For example, if you were in a school zone where reduced speed is legally mandated, or if you were adhering to posted signs in a construction zone, you could argue that your slow speed was, in fact, in compliance with existing laws.
Frequently Asked Questions About 39:4-97.1
What Does The 39:4-97.1 Statute Actually Mean?
The 39:4-97.1 statute in New Jersey makes it illegal to drive at such a slow speed that it disrupts the normal and reasonable movement of traffic on the road.
Are There Exceptions To This Law?
Yes, there are two main exceptions. You are allowed to drive at a reduced speed if it is necessary for safe operation of your vehicle, or if you are in compliance with another law that requires you to drive slowly.
Can I Be Pulled Over For Driving Too Slowly Even If I Think It’s Safe?
Yes, you can be. Law enforcement officers have the discretion to decide whether your slow speed is impeding traffic and may pull you over if they believe it is causing a problem.
What Are The Penalties For Violating 39:4-97.1?
Penalties can include fines and points added to your driver’s license. A violation can also potentially affect your insurance premiums.
How Can I Defend Myself If Charged Under 39:4-97.1?
There are several potential defenses. These include proving that your slow speed was necessary for safe operation, that you were in compliance with another law, or that you were not actually impeding traffic. Consult with a qualified traffic offense lawyer to discuss your specific situation.
Traffic Offense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with violating 39:4-97.1 in New Jersey, don’t navigate this legal challenge alone. Our experienced traffic offense lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are here to help you understand your rights and options. For professional legal representation, call us today at (855) 933-3761 or contact us online to set up a consultation. With offices throughout New Jersey, we’re conveniently located to serve you.
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