Tailgating (NJSA 39:4-89)
Tailgating is when your car follows another car too closely, so closely that it might be unsafe for that car to swerve or stop. Tailgating is illegal in the state of New Jersey. In this article, New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer Dan T. Matrafajlo will explain to you what the law is on tailgating, and what it can mean for you if you are found in violation of that law.
The law: N.J.S.A. 39:4-89
The relevant law in New Jersey is N.J.S.A. 39:4-89, which says that:
(1) If you’re the driver of a vehicle, you cannot follow another vehicle more closely than is “reasonable and prudent,” which means that you have to take into consideration the speed of the vehicle in front of you, the speed of the traffic, and the condition of the highway.
(2) If you’re the driver of a motor truck and you’re traveling on a highway that is outside of a business or residential district, you cannot follow another motor truck less than 100 feet behind. This doesn’t mean that you can’t overtake and pass that motor truck, however.
MVC points and penalties
The New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC) considers tailgating to be a serious offense and will add five points to your driving record if you commit this violation. If you get six or more points on your New Jersey driving record in three years, you will need to pay a $150 surcharge, plus $25 for each point beyond six. This is in addition to any court fines and penalties that you’ll get for the underlying violation. If you get 12 or more points on your driving record at any time, the MVC will suspend your driver’s license.
The fine for tailgating is $85. If you commit this violation in a designated safe corridor, construction zone, or 65 mile-per-hour area, however, that fine is increased to $140.
Additionally, the municipal court can fine you any amount between $50 and $200 and/or imprison you in state prison for up to 15 days. The judge also has the discretion to suspend your license for willful violation of this traffic law.
New Jersey-licensed automobile insurance providers also keep track of your traffic violations through an “insurance eligibility points” system that’s separate from, but similar to, the MVC points system. If you are convicted of or plead guilty to tailgating, you will get five insurance eligibility points. This will result in higher insurance rates. If you reach seven or more points, you will no longer be able to purchase insurance coverage through the voluntary market; instead, you’ll have to go through the New Jersey Personal Automobile Insurance Plan (NJPAIP), which is more expensive, at-risk insurance coverage.