NJ Points On Driver's License ExplainedIt is not a crime to make a mistake while driving, and most collisions do not even result in drivers getting criminal penalties, but the consequences of getting a traffic ticket can be worse than just having to pay a fine. Getting points on your driver’s license may not seem like a big deal; it sounds a lot like scoring points in a video game. If the fine you pay for a traffic ticket hurts the way that only losing real money can, getting points on your license feels like having to pay Monopoly money. The trouble with getting points on your driver’s license, though, is that if you get too many of them, it can lead to your driver’s license getting suspended. How many points you get and how quickly you get them will make all the difference regarding driver’s license suspension. Therefore, if a police officer has issued you a traffic citation that will result in points on your New Jersey driver’s license if you do not challenge it, you should contact a traffic ticket lawyer.

How Do Points on Your Driver’s License Work in New Jersey?

The most minor traffic violations, such as overstaying your welcome at a paid parking meter, only involve monetary fines and do not result in any points added to your driver’s license. New Jersey law does put points on your driver’s license for more serious traffic offenses, driving behaviors that are dangerous enough that they could have caused serious injuries. For the most egregious driving mistakes, such as leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the state bypasses the point system and you automatically get your driver’s license suspended, in addition to criminal charges. In other words, points on your driver’s license are for mid-level traffic offenses.

When determining whether to suspend your driver’s license, the court only looks at the points that have accumulated on your license for the past one to three years, depending on the traffic offense it is evaluating in your current case. Therefore, while points on your driver’s license do not exactly expire, getting 20 points on your license over ten years is better than getting 20 points on your license within one year.

How Many Points Do You Get for Which Traffic Violation in NJ?

The number of points applied to your driver’s license for each traffic citation depends on the severity of the offense.

2 Point Violations

For each of the following traffic violations, you get two points on your license:

  • Getting a traffic ticket in another state for a moving violation committed outside New Jersey
  • Moving against traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway, Garden State Parkway, or New Jersey Turnpike
  • Unlawful use of the median strip on the Atlantic City Expressway, Garden State Parkway, or New Jersey Turnpike
  • Driving a motorized bicycle on a road where the use of such vehicles is not permitted
  • More than one person riding on the same motorized bicycle
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk
  • Passing a vehicle that is yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk
  • Driving through a safety zone
  • Failure to obey laws regarding driving on grades and curves
  • Failure to obey directions of a police officer directing traffic
  • Failure to yield to vehicles or pedestrians when entering or exiting a highway
  • Driving on public or private property specifically to avoid a road sign or traffic light
  • Driving a motor vehicle on a sidewalk
  • Failure to observe traffic lights (except red light camera violations, which do not add points to your license)
  • Failure to keep right at intersections and other areas where keeping right is required
  • Failure to obey laws regarding driving on divided highways or dividers
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Failure to yield to a vehicle that is passing your vehicle
  • Failure to yield at an intersection
  • Entering a limited access highway at a place other than a designated entrance
  • Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, such as a fire engine or ambulance
  • Careless driving
  • Destroying agricultural or recreational property with a motor vehicle
  • Blocking traffic by traveling below the speed limit
  • Driving up to 14 miles per hour faster than the speed limit
  • Failure to stop at a red light
  • Failure to stop for a flashing red signal
  • Failure to stop for a police whistle
  • Failure to use a turn signal before changing lanes or turning
  • Backing up or turning on a part of a street where this is not allowed
  • Improperly crossing a bridge or railroad crossing
  • Crossing a railroad crossing with a vehicle that is not allowed to cross at one
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that did not involve personal injuries

3 Point Violations

The following traffic violations result in a penalty of three points on your license:

  • Driving a construction vehicle faster than 45 miles per hour
  • Using a handheld cell phone or another mobile device while driving (points begin to be assessed upon the third violation within 10 years; you do not get points on your license for the first two citations for using a cell phone while driving)
  • Making an illegal turn at a traffic light
  • Making an improper right turn, left turn, or U-turn

4 Point Violations

You get four points on your driver’s license for each of the following traffic infractions:

  • Improper passing on the Atlantic City Expressway, Garden State Parkway, or New Jersey Turnpike
  • Passing on the right or off the roadway instead of on the left
  • Passing in a no-passing zone
  • Driving in an unsafe manner (points begin to be assessed upon the third violation within five years; you do not get points on your license for the first two citations for driving in an unsafe manner)
  • Driving 15 to 29 miles per hour faster than the speed limit
  • Improper passing of ice cream trucks or other vehicles designed to sell frozen desserts
  • The following infractions result in five points being assessed to your license:
  • Racing on a highway
  • Failure to pass on the right of a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction
  • Tailgating or following too closely
  • Reckless driving
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 30 miles per hour or more
  • Improper passing of a school bus

8 Point Violations

The biggest assessment of points on your license is for leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury. This results in a penalty of eight points on your driver’s license.

Consequences of Getting Points on Your License in New Jersey

Challenging A Ticket To Get Points On License Reduced or EliminatedIf you get six points on your driver’s license within three years, you will need to pay a $150 surcharge to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. If you have more than six points, the surcharge increases by $25 per point starting with the seventh one. This means that, if you got a ticket for passing an ice cream truck last year and another ticket last week for tailgating, you have nine points on your license, so you must pay a $225 surcharge.

Even though the Motor Vehicle Commission keeps a permanent record of all the points that have ever been assessed to your license, you can get points deducted for every year that goes by without you getting any additional traffic citations. You can get the points removed more quickly by taking court-ordered driving safety classes.

If you get 12 points on your driver’s license in three years, your driver’s license will be suspended. Not only will you be responsible for the costs of getting where you need to go without your car while your license is under suspension, but you will also have to pay a reinstatement fee to the Motor Vehicle Commission. Getting points on your driver’s license is not the only thing that can lead to driver’s license suspension. Automatic license suspension is one of the penalties for a DUI conviction, for example.

The Motor Vehicle Commission is not the only entity that notices when drivers get points on their licenses. The points show up on background checks related to driving, for example, if a prospective employer does a background check before hiring you for a job that requires driving.  Likewise, points on your license make your car insurance premiums increase even if you do not have to pay a surcharge to the MVC or get your license suspended. It takes a very long time of citation-free driving to get your car insurance premiums to decrease to the price they were before you got the points on your license. 

When you consider how getting points on your license can increase your expenses and make it harder to get a job, they start to seem less like Monopoly money and more like a real financial burden. From this perspective, spending money to get points deducted from your license, or to stop them from being assessed at all, seems like a good investment. Hiring a traffic offenses lawyer costs a lot less than taking rideshare rides everywhere you go for six months.

When is it a Good Idea to Challenge a Traffic Ticket?

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution guarantee the right to due process, which means that the state must consider both sides of the story before imposing penalties on an individual. It is why defendants in criminal cases have the right to a jury trial and representation by an attorney. The more the individual stands to lose, the more elaborate the process is before the state can impose penalties. This is why the most serious felony cases require a grand jury to agree to an indictment before the defendant formally receives charges. It would not make sense to go through such a complex process for every traffic ticket, since the only things at stake are a relatively modest amount of money and points on a driver’s license; you do not need 12 people to agree beyond a reasonable doubt that you ran a stop sign because you are not going to spend decades in prison if you did.

Despite this, you have the right to admit fault for the traffic infraction or to maintain your innocence. The officer who issues your traffic ticket will explain this to you, and the fine print on the back of the citation goes into more detail about this. Contact the Motor Vehicle Commission for detailed information in other languages about traffic citations and your rights in relation to them. If you simply sign the citation and pay the fine, you are admitting guilt for the traffic violation. The police cannot coerce you into signing the citation; you always have the right to go to traffic court. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you in traffic court, but you also have the right to represent yourself. Unlike in criminal cases, the court will not assign a lawyer to you for traffic court if you do not hire one.

You should go to traffic court and challenge your citation if you have a lot to lose by getting points on your license. For example, if you already have points on your license, and this new citation would require you to get a driver’s license suspension, then challenging the traffic citation in court is the best option. If you think it is obvious that the officer wrongfully issued the traffic ticket, then you can represent yourself in traffic court. If it is a little more complicated than that, you should hire a traffic offenses lawyer, who can help you think of the best defenses to use. A traffic offenses lawyer can also help you persuade the court to let you take driver safety courses that will lead to the deduction of points from your license.

A New Jersey Traffic Violations Defense Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Getting Points on Your Driver’s License

A traffic offenses lawyer can help you if you are in danger of getting points on your driver’s license as a result of a traffic infraction. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall  have handled thousands of traffic ticket infractions and have the experience you need to get your points reduced, eliminated or your ticket thrown out all together.  Contact us to discuss your case.