Can Traffic Violations Lead to Criminal Charges?

If you’ve been accused of committing a traffic violation in New Jersey, you will face serious consequences, including significant monetary fines, driver’s license suspension, possible jail time, and points on your driving record. Many people wonder whether a traffic violation can escalate to a criminal charge. Please continue reading to learn what separates a traffic violation from a criminal charge and how a skilled Bergen County Traffic Violations Attorney can help defend your rights. 

What’s the Difference Between Moving and Non-Moving Violations?

In New Jersey, traffic offenses are categorized as moving or non-moving violations. As its name suggests, a moving violation applies when a vehicle is in motion, while a non-moving violation applies when the vehicle is at rest. Moving violations may include speeding, running a stop sign or red light, DUI, or failing to wear a seat belt. Non-moving violations may consist of parking illegally, driving without proper documentation, or having broken headlights. It’s crucial to note that a moving violation is the driver’s responsibility regardless of who the car is registered to. A non-moving violation, on the other hand, falls on the registrant of the vehicle.

What is the New Jersey Traffic Points System?

When a driver incurs a ticket, they typically decide to pay the fine. However, they usually fail to realize that this means they are pleading guilty to the charge. If they want to dispute the charge, they will have to take their case to municipal court. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that New Jersey uses a point system when it comes to traffic offenses. Essentially, points are added to your driving record when you are convicted of or plead guilty to a moving violation. The accumulation of such points can lead to surcharges, higher insurance premiums, and even the eventual loss of your driving privileges. Points are added to your driver’s license for more severe traffic offenses where the driving behaviors are dangerous enough that they could have caused serious bodily injury to another.

When Do Traffic Violations Escalate to Criminal Violations?

Despite its public stigma, driving while under the influence (DUI) is considered a traffic offense, not a crime in New Jersey. However, make no mistake, a DUI can still lead to significant penalties, such as hefty fines, driver’s license suspension, and even possible jail time. Other serious traffic charges include speeding, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

Nevertheless, some actions are grave enough that New Jersey courts will treat them as traffic crimes instead of merely offenses. If a driver fails to pay their tickets and does not appear in court to dispute their case, this can evolve into the court missing a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear. Some traffic offenses can upgrade to criminal violations, including instances of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, committing a hit and run, or leaving the scene of an accident. It’s important to note that New Jersey does not classify crimes as felonies but rather as indicatable crimes.

If you require quality legal representation to fight against the penalties associated with a traffic violation, please don’t hesitate to contact The Law Office of Carl Spector to discuss your case.