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Can Traffic Violations Lead to Criminal Charges in New Jersey?

New Jersey does not operate the way a lot of other states do. For one, there is no classification of a misdemeanor or felony. Instead, the operative words are disorderly persons offense and indictable crime, respectively. Traffic violations and criminal offenses often overlap in terms of punishments. For example, a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is categorized as a traffic violation in NJ, not a criminal charge. However, that does not diminish the severity of the offense and you will still face serious repercussions such as fines, suspension of your license, and jail time. If you were ticketed or arrested in relation to a traffic violation and are wondering if you could be charged with a criminal offense, reach out to a Bergen County lawyer for assistance.

What is the Difference Between a Traffic Offense and a Criminal Offense?

A major difference between traffic offenses and criminal charges is that if you are convicted of a traffic violation you will not have a criminal record for that offense. However, it will appear on your driving record permanently, and be ineligible for expungement.

A non-moving violation in New Jersey is a violation that occurs when the car is stationary. Some examples can include illegally parking on a crosswalk, missing license plates, illegal window tint, or not having proper registration or tags. These typically result in less severe fines and penalties than a moving violation.

Moving violations are offenses where the vehicle is in motion, including speeding, running a red light or stop sign, a hit-and-run, not wearing a seatbelt, or driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Because these offenses have the potential to cause severe damage and injury, the penalties are more severe.

What is the New Jersey Point System?

New Jersey has a traffic points system as a form of punishment for driver infractions. Each traffic offense has a designated amount of points associated with it that will be added to your license if you commit that act. For example, if you are found guilty of driving 15 – 29 miles per hour over the speed limit, 4 points will be added to your license. A driver who reaches 12 points on their driving record will have their license suspended.

Would a Traffic Violation Ever Be Considered a Criminal Charge?

A traffic violation can turn into an indictable crime depending on the specifics of the situation. For example, as earlier established, a DWI is a traffic offense, not a criminal offense. However, if driving under the influence resulted in vehicular manslaughter that would be an indictable crime that can arise from a traffic violation. Refusing to pay a ticket or appear in court can also result in the state issuing a warrant for your arrest.

It is also important to keep in mind that traffic violations can result in the same penalties as a criminal charge. Every case is different, so be sure to acquire the services of an experienced lawyer for legal advice and representation.

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