Fighting A Ticket For Running A Red Light In New Jersey

You misjudged the amber light. You miscalculated and thought you had enough time to clear the intersection. You thought you could not stop in time, so you impulsively sped up, but the lights turned red before you knew it. You might also have been momentarily distracted or suffered from inattentional blindness, a psychological phenomenon where you miss something that’s right in front of you as your focus is elsewhere. Unfortunately, police officers and red light cameras used by over 20 states, including New Jersey, will catch these offenses. Unsurprisingly, New Jersey drivers pay millions of dollars in traffic fines annually.

There are innumerable circumstances where the failure to stop or obey road traffic instructions means you can be found guilty of various Title 39 statutory provisions relating to motor vehicle offenses. Besides demerit points, traffic violations can greatly impact your finances in the form of increased insurance premiums, surcharges, penalties, loss of license, or even possible incarceration. As such, you should fight your ticket for running a red light where possible. Learn about the circumstances where your ticket can be contested.

Failure to Stop for Traffic Lights Violations 

A guilty plea or conviction for the following offense(s) will result in two points on your license: failure to observe a traffic signal, failure to stop for a police signal, failure to yield at an intersection and failure to observe stop signs.

According to N.J.S.A. 39:4-105 and NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-119, drivers must come to a stop if the red light is solid; and when motorists approach a flashing red light, respectively. A ticket in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-81 (failure to observe traffic signal) is similar to one for N.J.S.A. 39:4-105 (failure to stop for traffic light).

Penalties for Failing to Stop

The most severe consequence for traffic lights violations is a jail term of up to 15 days, albeit rarely imposed unless there has been a car accident or aggravating circumstances. Comparably minor penalties include fines up to $200 and demerit points on your license. The penalties may be raised if you have been speeding, possess prior violations, if the incident took place at a “Safe Corridor”, or if you have been charged with another traffic offense while waiting for your ticket to be processed.

Contesting Your Traffic Ticket 

A traffic ticket could cost you your license so it is crucial to fight it where possible. A preliminary step is to verify your driving record. If your record already has moving violations, parking tickets and other offenses from the past three years, you will not be allowed to argue a red light violation.

Otherwise, there are several legal defenses that drivers can mount to contest a red light ticket. These include:

    • the vehicle is not owned by the driver
    • the picture of the actual driver differs from the recipient of the moving violation
    • the red light camera was unsatisfactorily maintained and possessed inherent defects, or it was broken or blocked by some object that reduced visibility from the road
    • the pictured license plates differ from those on the driver’s car
    • there are no red light advance warning signs at the intersection.

A common misconception that New Jersey drivers have is that they cannot successfully challenge a red light camera ticket. However, a knowledgeable New Jersey municipal court attorney can help you to fight the ticket for running a red light and negate the consequences of getting a moving violation. If you are looking for an attorney to represent you in municipal court, contact us at Carcich O’Shea today!

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