Improper passing on right or off roadway (NJSA 39:4-85)

If you’re going to pass a car that’s driving in the same direction as you, you must pass that car by driving to the left of that vehicle. You can’t come back to the right side of the road until it’s safe to do so and there’s a safe distance between your car and the car you passed. If you’re not in a commercial or residential district, you must notify the other drivers that you’re going to pass by honking or giving some other warning. Of course, you can’t pass if it’s not safe to do so. In this article, New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer Dan T. Matrafajlo will explain to you what the law is, and what it can mean for you.

The law: N.J.S.A. 39:4-85

Traffic ticket Lawyer“The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left thereof and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. If vehicles on the roadway are moving in two or more substantially continuous lines, the provisions of this paragraph and section 39:4-87 of this Title shall not be considered as prohibiting the vehicles in one line overtaking and passing the vehicles in another line either upon the right or left, nor shall those provisions be construed to prohibit drivers overtaking and passing upon the right another vehicle which is making or about to make a left turn.

“The driver of an overtaking motor vehicle not within a business or residence district shall give audible warning with his horn or other warning device before passing or attempting to pass a vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

“The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right as provided in this section only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. In no event shall such movement be made by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway.”

MVC points and penalties

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will penalize you for violating this law by adding four points to your driving record. Keep in mind that if you get six or more points on your New Jersey driving record in three years, the MVC will fine you. If you get 12 or more points, the MVC will suspend your license. You will be able to get some points subtracted from your record if you go a year without a violation or suspension, or if you take an MVC-approved defensive driving course.


The traffic ticket fine for this violation is $85. If you commit this violation in a designated safe corridor, construction zone, or 65 mile-per-hour are, you will be fined $140.

The municipal court can also fine you anywhere between $50 and $200 and/or imprison you for up to 15 days. The judge has the discretion to suspend your license for willful violation of this law.

Insurance rates

In addition, New Jersey-licensed automobile insurers will add four points to your “insurance eligibility points.” More points on your record mean that you’ll need to pay higher insurance payments. If you get seven or more points, you will not be able to obtain automobile insurance on the voluntary market. Instead, you’ll have to pay more to get at-risk coverage through the New Jersey Personal Automobile Insurance Plan (NJPAIP).



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