Unsafe Driving Lawyer West Windsor, NJ
Many of the traffic tickets that are issued in New Jersey carry motor vehicle points, which are assessed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) following conviction. If you accumulate too many motor vehicle points, the MVC will issue a surcharge, or even suspend your driver’s license, depending on how many points you have accumulated. Being convicted of too many point-bearing tickets can also mean an increase in your auto insurance premium.
It is for this reason that many people are interested in plea bargaining their point-bearing ticket to a zero-point ticket. The most commonly used downgrade to a zero-point ticket is to Unsafe Driving, but there are some pitfalls that you should know about. Talk to a West Windsor unsafe driving lawyer today.
What the NJ Unsafe Driving Statute Says:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, it shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner likely to endanger person or property.” N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.2.
What the NJ Unsafe Driving Statute Means:
Obviously, there are many actions a driver could take while driving a motor vehicle which could be considered “unsafe” so as to be likely to endanger person or property. For instance, speeding, following too closely, running a red (or yellow) light, or making an unsafe lane change are all actions that could be considered “unsafe” under the statute. The benefit to pleading guilty to Unsafe Driving instead of the point-bearing offenses you were originally charged with is, obviously, that you will not be assessed Motor Vehicle Points for that violation.
There are several issues to consider when deciding whether you should plead guilty to an amended charge of Unsafe Driving under N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.2.
For a first offense Unsafe Driving, you will be fined between $50 and $150, and the court must impose a one-time $250 State surcharge. When you factor in court costs of $33 and the $6 assessment that gets added to every conviction in Municipal Court, your grand total for a first offense is $339 to $439.
For a second Unsafe Driving conviction, you will be fined between $100 and $250, and the court must impose a one-time $250 State surcharge. Add in the same $33 and $6 as above, and you are looking at a total financial penalty of $389 to $539.
For a third or subsequent Unsafe Driving offense, you will be fined between $200 and $500, and the court must impose that same one-time $250 State surcharge. Add in the $33 and $6 costs and assessment, and your grand total for a third offense is $489 to $789.
If you have never been convicted of Unsafe Driving in the past, you don’t have to worry about this. If you plead guilty to a first Unsafe Driving, you will not receive any Motor Vehicle Points.
If you have been convicted of Unsafe Driving only once before, you will not receive any Motor Vehicle Points for a second conviction, no matter when it occurs in relationship to your first offense.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF UNSAFE DRIVING TWICE BEFORE, THERE MUST BE A GAP OF AT LEAST 5 YEARS BETWEEN THE SECOND AND THIRD OFFENSES, OR ELSE YOU WILL RECEIVE 4 MOTOR VEHICLE POINTS.
If you have a provisional/probationary driver’s license, you will not be eligible for a downgrade to Unsafe Driving by order of the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey.
If you have had your provisional/probationary driver’s license for more than one year, you are eligible to convert it to a basic driver’s license, which would have the effect of making you eligible for an amendment to Unsafe Driving.
How Unsafe Driving Points Really Work:
Lisa received a 4-point speeding ticket in January 2008. She went to court and was offered an amendment to Unsafe Driving by the Municipal Prosecutor and pleaded guilty to a first offense. She paid $439 to the court and did not receive any motor vehicle points.
In July 2012, Lisa received a ticket for making an improper U-turn, a violation worth 3 points. She again went to court and was offered an amendment to Unsafe Driving by the Municipal Prosecutor. She pleaded guilty to a second offense, paid $539 to the court, and did not receive any motor vehicle points.
In August 2017, Lisa received a ticket for Unsafe Lane Change, a violation worth 2 motor vehicle points. She went to court and was offered an amendment to Unsafe Driving by the Municipal Prosecutor, which she accepted. She paid $789 to the court and did not receive any motor vehicle points because the violation took place more than 5 years after her second conviction for Unsafe Driving.
Same facts, only this time Lisa received the ticket for Unsafe Lane Change in April 2017. She went to court and was offered an amendment to Unsafe Driving by the Municipal Prosecutor. She accepted, pleaded guilty, paid $789 to the court and received 4 motor vehicle points, because her conviction for Unsafe Driving took place less than 5 years after her second conviction. In this situation, Lisa would have been better off simply pleading guilty to the Unsafe Lane Change ticket, which only carries 2 motor vehicle points.
Free Consultation with an Experienced Hopewell Unsafe Driving Ticket Attorney
If you have any questions about your eligibility for an amendment to Unsafe Driving, you should consult an experienced traffic defense lawyer. Contact our West Windsor traffic ticket attorneys today by calling (609) 587-1144 or by filling out this online form.