What Happens If You Don’t Pay Traffic Court Fines In NJ?

What will happen to me if I don’t pay my traffic court fines? What should I do if I don’t have the means to pay for them? If you have just googled these questions, you need to understand that the longer your traffic ticket goes unpaid, the more severe the consequences will be. If the preliminary traffic court fine is not paid, you will accumulate surcharges. Surcharges are fines assessed by the New Jersey Surcharge Violation System (NJSVS) annually and imposed on drivers who have been found guilty of committing traffic offenses, or have accumulated an unreasonable amount of points for traffic violations.

After Reasonable Opportunity 

It is the law of New Jersey that every defendant has an inherent legal right to a “reasonable opportunity” to pay a fine. This includes working out an installment plan with the court when good cause is proven by the defendant himself.

After Missed Payments and Hearings

In the event where you fail to pay a fine or default on a payment plan, judges can refer to N.J.S.A. 2C:46-2 to explore the various legal options.

The court will first order you to make a court appearance to justify the lack of payment. Ideally, you should appear at the hearing with your payment ready, and explain how you intend to fulfill the installment plan. You should never ignore the notice and not show up for the hearing as you would be giving up on the legal options that are available to you. With cooperation and good behavior, the court may decide to adjust your installment plan, reduce said fine, or even temporarily suspend it. Even better, the court can revoke the remainder of your fine if you can present the judge with valid reasons or if the court finds that the circumstances in which the fine was imposed have changed. Other alternatives may include community service in place of a financial penalty, with the hours of community work being decided by the judge.

In contrast, if one fails to show up at the hearing, the court may enforce the defendant’s appearance with a warrant for his arrest. If the defendant fails to prove good cause for his failure to make payment in his eventual court appearance, his driving privileges may be suspended indefinitely until his fine has been paid in full. If non-payment is found to be a willful violation, a corresponding period of imprisonment may be imposed. In lieu of jail, community service or mandatory safety driving classes may be assigned by the court. Alternatively, the court may just issue a failure to appear or process a close-out with a consequent revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license.

Handle Your Traffic Offense with Carcich O’Shea

When you plead guilty to a traffic offense, you become obligated to the court. An entire maelstrom of legal ramifications may surface should you not fulfill your obligations. Ignoring your penalty will not make it disappear. A penalty is weightier than a fine and you’ll have to deal with financial obligations like court costs – approximately $33 per offense, $50 for payments to the Violent Crime Compensation Board, $75 for a Safe Neighborhood Assessment, and more. If you’re falling behind on your payments, and are feeling overwhelmed by all the extra fees involved, contact an attorney to help you out today! At Carcich O’Shea, our attorneys are skilled and knowledgeable in municipal matters and we can guide you through the complicated processes of the municipal court.

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