Improper Crossing of Railroad Grade Crossing by Certain Vehicles (NJSA 39:4-128)
NJSA 39:4-128 applies only to drivers of certain commercial vehicles, including buses and vehicles carrying explosive or flammable liquids as cargo. It states the driver of such a vehicle, “before crossing at grade any track or tracks of a railroad[,] shall stop such vehicle within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of such railroad and while so stopped listen and look in both directions along such track or tracks, for any approaching train, and for signals indicating the approach of a train.”
After stopping, the driver may proceed if it is safe to do so, but may not change gears while crossing the tracks. This law doesn’t apply to all railroad crossings—it excludes those that are no longer used for railroad traffic, those where tracks have been removed or paved over, and those marked with a sign reading “Exempt Crossing.” The Commissioner of Transportation will designate a crossing as exempt when requiring a vehicle to stop would create a greater risk of accidents (with vehicles travelling the same direction) than allowing the vehicle to cross without stopping. Such crossings are usually secondary lines without much train traffic.
NJSA 39:4-128(b) prohibits certain vehicles from ever crossing train tracks without notifying the nearest railroad superintendant or trainmaster in advance and allowing enough time for the railroad to provide proper protection at the crossing. The vehicles affected by this section of the law include tractors, steam shovels, and self-propelled concrete mixers.
Fines and Other Penalties
A person who violates NJSA 39:4-128 will be fined up to $50 for the first offense and up to $100 for the second offense, and may face up to 30 days imprisonment. A guilty plea or conviction of this statute will also result in two points being added to your driving record. If you accumulate six or more points in a three-year period, you will be subject to a $150 surcharge, and if you have 12 points on your record at any time, your license will be suspended.
A conviction or guilty plea will also result in two “insurance eligibility points,” which are used by insurance companies to determine the premium you pay. If you accumulate two many insurance points, you may find insurers unwilling to cover you at all.
New Jersey Traffic Ticket Attorney Dan Matrafajlo
If you have been accused of improperly crossing a railroad grade crossing, you are facing fines, a suspended license, and even jail time. Think twice before just paying the ticket (and in doing so, pleading guilty to the charge). Contact Dan Matrafajlo at (908) 248-4404 to learn how I can help.