It is well known that getting stopped for a traffic violation can represent extraordinary expense. The driver may be faced with mandated traffic points, fines and even prospective loss of license. We have all heard that surcharges are another cost affiliated with traffic violations. To understand the process better, you may benefit from a primer on NJ surcharges.
In order to help you understand surcharges, we are presenting you with a case that is routinely heard in New Jersey municipal courts. Picture yourself in the place of our fictional defendant.
Robert Wade (our exemplary client) is pulled over because his headlight is not functioning and the police officer wants to ensure that Mr. Wade is aware of the issue. This is a routine traffic stop, which could result in a ticket for Mr. Wade failing to maintain the lamps on his vehicle. It is considered a non-moving violation and does not carry points.
However, when the police officer runs Mr. Wade’s driver’s license, he determines that Mr. Wade’s license has been suspended. This is where the trouble begins. Mr. Wade claims that he did not know that his license was suspended. However, ignorance is not considered an excuse when it comes to the law. (Mr. Wade quietly remembers all those parking tickets he ignored and wonders if their non-payment is the reason for his license suspension.)
The police officer now has an obligation to write Mr. Wade a ticket for driving while suspended. Unless Mr. Wade can prove he did not receive proper service of the license suspension, he is now subject to several penalties. For a first offense, Mr. Wade can expect to pay a fine of $500. He may also lose his license for six months if this was the first time he drove while suspended. Thankfully, Mr. Wade was not involved in an accident that resulted in personal injury. He would then be subject to mandatory incarceration.
In addition to the foregoing penalties, Mr. Wade will be obligated to pay annual surcharges in addition to the fine. The total amount due over three years is $750, payable to the state in the amount of $250 annually.
List of Offenses that Carry Surcharges
Our scenario demonstrates that driving while suspended would cost Mr. Wade $1250, which is a hefty sum of money. Here are some other offenses that carry surcharges:
- Accumulation of six or more traffic points within three years = $150 +$25 for each point over the six (may be for each of three years)
- Driving without a license, or an expired one =$100/annually for three years
- Failing to insure a moped =$100/annually for three years
- Operating an uninsured vehicle =$250/annually for three years
- Offenses related to driving while intoxicated carry significant surcharges