Fight Traffic Ticket in New JerseyPage Overview
After receiving an NJ traffic ticket, you can plead guilty and pay your ticket (usually online, unless there are extenuating circumstances) or plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court.
- 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).
Fighting your NJ 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 their situations, some drivers find pleading guilty and paying their fines the most convenient option. Learn more in our Paying Your Traffic Ticket section.
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. Drivers who fail to respond on time face arrest warrants and license suspension.
Find Your Court
Municipal courts handle NJ traffic tickets; the name and address of the court handling your ticket is printed in the upper right hand corner of your citation.
Inform the Court
Generally, you can appear in court on the date printed on your 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 case, just in case your hearing occurs on the same date.
Some courts prefer drivers inform them of their not guilty pleas within seven 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 thing. 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 the date on your ticket, you must contact your court as soon as you realize you need to reschedule or postpone your traffic ticket hearing.
Doing so can help you avoid:
- Receiving a “Failure to Appear” notice.
- Getting arrested.
- Losing your driving privileges.
By choosing to contest your ticket, 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 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.
As you, and possibly your traffic ticket lawyer prepare your case, remember:
- To practice your testimony. Even if your 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 violation, the judge and prosecutor might be agreeable to a plea agreement. Discuss these options with your attorney.
- It’s best to 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.
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’ll let you know if he’s found you not guilty or guilty, 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 hearing―just in case.
Filing an Appeal
You can appeal a guilty verdict within 20 days of receiving the verdict.
A judge with the 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 $75 plus the cost of transcription services. Use New Jersey’s Pack 10559, “How to Appeal a Decision of a Municipal Court.” This packet provides exact instructions, fees, and forms to use.
Accumulating too many driving record points leads to license suspension.
After your hearing, check your driving record to make sure you received:
- Only the applicable number of points, if you were found guilty.
- No points, if you were found not guilty.
Most auto insurance providers increase rates for drivers who’ve received traffic violation convictions. 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.Other Topics in This Section