Pleading to traffic offenses in New Jersey for out-of-state drivers
This article is just to give out-of-state drivers a little background before taking a plea for a driving offense in New Jersey where the consequences may be unforeseen for the state where they are licensed in.
Effects of having a license suspension in New JerseyOne thing that a New Jersey should be aware of is that if he or she gets a ticket out-of-state, the driver will normally be assessed two points even if the points offense is higher in the state where the violation occurred. Two states, however, are not members of either the Drivers License Compact or the Nonresident Violators Compact, Michigan and Wisconsin. However, for situations where a person's driver's license has been suspended, the person's license will likewise be suspended in the other state. Many times, New Jersey residents move out-of-state and forget about a driving offense causing their license rights to be suspended. Then, often years later, the person tries to apply for a license in another state only to find out that they are unable to, because their license is suspended in New Jersey. The unfortunate driver will then have to clear their record in New Jersey in order to be able to get a license in their new state (in my practice this has happened mostly with people from Florida and North Carolina, but it can happen anywhere).
When is a "Zero Point" offense not a "zero point" offense?The next thing to recognize is that points are assessed differently in other states. For instance, New Jersey offers a 0 point offense called "unsafe driving". This is often used by drivers who hope to avoid increased insurance rates coming with points. However, if that person is from out-of-state, the resident state may look at an "unsafe driving" and treat it as something similar to careless driving and assess points. So zero points do not mean zero points for the out-of-state resident.
Do all states assess motor vehicle points like New Jersey?Some states like Illinois don't even assess points. They treat any moving violation as a step towards license revocation. So a driver may plea to an offense that carries no points in the state where the offense occurred, for instance failure to wear a seat belt or cell phone violation before points started getting assessed for the cell phone. The abstract in New Jersey may carry 0 points, however, that person may have accumulated a number of offenses in Illinois and face a license suspension. Other states follow this same methods.
Make sure you or your attorney has some awareness of the motor vehicle laws in your state before taking a pleaSo, it is always good to check with your attorney if you are planning to take a plea in New Jersey to make sure that the plea that may look good to a resident New Jersey driver also will look good on your motor vehicle back home. This is especially true for out-of-state commercially licensed drivers, because they face the prospect of a license suspension more quickly than a regular driver, even if they are driving their personal vehicle