If you were involved in a New Jersey car accident and the accident was your fault, you probably were issued a NJ traffic ticket. The most common traffic ticket that NJ police officers issue for an accident is careless driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-97). Sometimes, if you were grossly negligent, such as speeding through an intersection at a high rate of speed or drunk driving, you may be issued a reckless driving ticket (N.J.S.A. 39:4-96). The DMV of NJ will access points to these offenses.
How can an attorney help you in this situation?
There are two common defenses that we will employ when you have been issued a traffic ticket for a NJ accident:
1. Review the police accident report and determine whether cross or companion tickets should be issued against the other driver. Sometimes, at an intersectional accident, the other driver is partly at fault. If it is legally justified and probable cause can be found for issuing a ticket against the other driver, this is your best defense. When we go to court, often times both drivers will agree to drop all the charges against each other and each party goes home with no fines, no points, and no court costs.
2. The second option is to have your attorney go to court with you and negotiate a downgrade with the prosecutor. The most commonly sought downgrade would be a zero-point ticket. This may not always be in your best interest due to many other considerations.
It is extremely important to retain a lawyer in these types of cases. If you pay the ticket by mail, you are actually pleading guilty. This can be used against you in a civil court to prove that you were at fault for the accident. This is especially troublesome if there are injuries or property damage resulting from the accident.
A lawyer can also protect you in other ways such as requesting a Civil Reservation. I will comment on a Civil Reservation in a later blog entry.