Fight Traffic Ticket in New Jersey
If you plan to fight your NJ traffic ticket, you'll need to submit a "not guilty" plea in court. Your moving violation may already require you to appear in court, but if not, be sure to schedule a hearing. Refer to your NJ traffic ticket or contact the relevant traffic court for specific details.
Continue reading this page to learn how to fight your traffic ticket in New Jersey.
Fighting a NJ Traffic Ticket
- Pay the fine.
- Accumulate driving record points.
- Risk license suspension (depending on points, violation).
- Possibly experience higher auto insurance rates.
- Enroll in driving course to offset points and possibly get an auto insurance discount.
Learn more about
paying your traffic ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty)
- Contest the ticket during a hearing.
- Hire a traffic ticket lawyer or represent yourself.
- Face no penalties if found not guilty.
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
What It Means to Fight Your NJ Traffic Ticket
Fighting your New Jersey traffic ticket means pleading "not guilty" and making a case for your innocence. You'll present this case in court, before a judge and possibly with the help of a traffic ticket attorney, witnesses, and other evidence.
If you're found "not guilty," you can put the incident behind you; if you're found "guilty," you must pay all related fines, deal with consequences like point accumulation and other penalties, and possibly face an increase in auto insurance rates.
Depending on your situation, pleading "guilty" and paying the fine may be the most convenient option. Read our Paying Your Traffic Ticket page to learn more.
Avoid Additional Charges
Your NJ traffic ticket includes a court date and time under the “Notice to Appear" section.
If you don't respond by this date, you'll receive a “Failure to Appear" notice with further instructions and information about consequences. In some cases, you may face an arrest warrant and driver's license suspension.
Notify the NJ Traffic Court
Find Your Court
Municipal courts handle traffic tickets in New Jersey.
The name and address of the court handling your ticket is printed in the upper right hand corner of your traffic citation.
Inform the Court
Generally, you can appear in court on the date printed on your traffic ticket and inform the judge you want to plead "not guilty" and have a hearing. You might have your hearing that same day, or the judge might schedule your hearing for a future date. It's best to seek legal counsel and prepare your defense, just in case your hearing occurs on the same date.
Some courts prefer notification that you wish to fight your traffic ticket within 7 days of the court date printed on the ticket. Once you contact your court, a clerk will either tell you to appear on the date on the ticket, or schedule a traffic ticket hearing date.
You can contact your court using the contact information printed on the ticket, or find your court's contact information via the New Jersey Courts Local Courthouses website.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
New Jersey affords all defendants the right to a “reasonable postponement" of their hearings.
Typically, judges handle requests for postponements first. This means you can show up on the original court date (the date printed on your ticket) and request a postponement for your traffic ticket hearing. However, if you can't make it on that date, you must contact your court as soon as you realize you need to reschedule or postpone your court hearing.
Doing so can help you avoid:
- Receiving a “Failure to Appear" notice.
- Getting arrested.
- Losing your driving privileges.
Hire a NJ Traffic Ticket Attorney
When you fight your NJ traffic violation, you're choosing to appear in court before a judge.
Sound nerve-wracking? For many drivers, it is.
Consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer to represent you in court―especially if you face a DUI or other criminal-related charges. An attorney experienced with NJ's traffic ticket laws can help you prepare for court as well as get the best possible outcome.
Prepare Your Traffic Case
When you (and your traffic ticket lawyer, if applicable) begin to prepare your case, remember these things:
- Practice your testimony. Even if your traffic attorney speaks for you, the two of you must go over your account of the event.
- You can present legal documents and other evidence.
- You can call on or subpoena witnesses.
- Depending on your moving violation, the judge and prosecutor might be willing to arrange a plea agreement. Discuss these options with your attorney.
- Show up ready to pay your traffic ticket fine and any related surcharges. You could lose your case, and some judges require payment that day.
Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury
During your NJ traffic ticket hearing, the judge will allow:
- The prosecution to call to the stand and question the state's witnesses.
- You or your attorney to cross-examine the state's witnesses.
- You to testify or your attorney to speak on your behalf.
- You or your attorney to call to the stand and question your witnesses.
- The prosecution to cross-examine you or your witnesses.
During the hearing, the judge also will view any evidence and legal documents that either side presents.
Once the judge makes his decision, he or she will let you know the verdict, and the exact fines and penalties you face if you're guilty.
Sometimes, judges expect drivers to pay the fines right then; other times, they allow them time to make payments or pay one lump sum at a later date. For this reason, it's best to come to court prepared to pay at the end of your court hearing―just in case.
Filing an Appeal in New Jersey
In New Jersey, you can appeal a guilty verdict within 20 days of receiving the verdict.
A judge with the NJ Superior Court for your county will read the transcript of your original hearing, as well as view any original legal documents and evidence (typically, new evidence and testimony aren't allowed) and make a judgment.
Filing an appeal costs $100 plus the cost of transcription services. Use the How to Appeal a Decision of the Municipal Court (Form CN 10559) packet. It provides exact instructions, fees, and forms to use.
Check Your NJ Driving Record
After your hearing, check your driving record in New Jersey to make sure you received:
- Only the applicable number of points, if you were found "guilty."
- No points, if you were found "not guilty."
Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates
Most auto insurance providers increase rates for drivers who received traffic convictions on their NJ driving records. Talk with your agent about how a guilty verdict will affect your rates, and then consider comparing auto insurance rates online to find a better deal.