Does New Jersey Have a Deadline For Issuing a Traffic Violation?

Yes, usually the deadline that a citizen or police officer, and possibly a judge can issue an NJ traffic ticket against another driver is 30 days after the incident. There are a few exceptions (See N.J.S.A. §39:5-3 below).

The NJ Appellate Division just issued new law regarding a case where an NJ traffic violation was issued on the 30th day after the incident, but was not served on the defendant for at least 142 days after the incident.

This case was the result of a fatal NJ car accident at an intersection in Winslow Township, NJ. The defendant (the person accused of causing the NJ car accident) did not receive an NJ traffic ticket at the scene of the NJ car accident. Instead, the police investigated the NJ car accident and finally issued a NJ Reckless Driving ticket (N.J.S.A. §39: 4-96).

The problem in this case was that the police and/or the Winslow Township Municipal Court did not “serve” the ticket by notifying the defendant within the 30-day period following the NJ car accident. The NJ appeals court stated that this 30-day law, “ensures that a defendant receives timely notice for the allegations charged…” “It protects the accused from the hazards of defending against stale allegations.”

I believe this is a good NJ law and a good decision. A person should not be able to be charged with an NJ traffic violation months or years after the incident occurred. Valuable information including witnesses could be lost over time, especially if the accused person does not know that he or she must defend themselves against the NJ traffic violation.

See the N.J. law regarding the issue here:

N.J.S.A. §39:5-3: Process for appearance or arrest; complaint; venue

a. When a person has violated a provision of this subtitle, the judge may, within 30 days after the commission of the offense, issue process directed to a constable, police officer or the director for the appearance or arrest of the person so charged. In the case of a violation enumerated in subsection b. of this section, this period shall commence upon the filing of a complaint.b. A complaint may be made to a judge for a violation of R.S.39:3-12, R.S. 39:3-34, R.S.39:3-37, R.S.39:4-129 or R.S.39:10-24 at any time within one year after the commission of the offense; for a violation of R.S.39:4-50, section 2 of P.L.1981, c. 512 (C.39:4-50.4a), section 5 of P.L.1990, c. 103 (C.39:3-10.13), section 16 of P.L.1990, c. 103 (C.39:3-10.24), section 3 of P.L.1952, c. 157 (C.12:7-46), or section 9 of P. L.1986, c. 39 (C.12:7-57) at any time within 90 days after the commission of the offense; and for a violation of R.S.39:3-40, or section 1 of P.L.1942, c. 192 (C.39:4-128.1), at any time within 90 days after the commission of the offense.c. All proceedings shall be brought before a judge having jurisdiction in the municipality in which it is alleged that the violation occurred, but when a violation occurs on a street through which the boundary line of two or more municipalities runs or crosses, then the proceeding may be brought before the judge having jurisdiction in any one of the municipalities divided by said boundary line, and in the event there shall be no judge or should no judge having such jurisdiction be available for the acceptance of bail and disposition of the case, or should the judges having such jurisdiction be disqualified because of personal interest in the proceedings, or for any other legal cause, said proceeding shall be brought before a judge having jurisdiction in the nearest municipality to the one in which it is alleged such a violation occurred.