The Basics of Speeding in New Jersey: Speeding Law & Penalties

By Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Traffic Ticket Attorney
From the law offices of Palumbo & Renaud

In New Jersey, there are default speed limits that apply unless the county, state or municipality sets out another limit in that area. In order for the prosecution to obtain a conviction for speeding, it must demonstrate that the speed limit posted on the sign is in accordance with the state statute regulating speed. One easy way to defend a speeding ticket is for a criminal defense attorney to show that the state, county, or municipality never approved the speed limit on the sign. If a New Jersey Speeding Ticket Attorney is successful in demonstrating this deviation, the speeding charges must be dropped.

The Default Rules:

Under the default rules, the law is that unless a person is in a 65 mile per hour ("mph") speed zone, they cannot drive over 50 mph. That is the general rule. Under the default rules, certain areas have specific speed limits set out. For example, a person cannot drive faster than 25 mph when driving through a school zone while children are present, when children can be seen from the road, or when children are coming or going from school. Another area in which the default rules carve out an exception is in a business or residential district. When driving in a New Jersey business or residential district, a person cannot drive faster than 25 mph. Remember that these are only the basic default rules put in place by the state. If a municipality, take for example the town of Elizabeth decides that in a certain residential area the speed limit needs to be 15 mph, and signs are put up to that effect, then 15 mph will be the speed limit, not the default law of 25 mph.

Situations that Require Speed Reductions:

As mentioned above, one of the ways to defend a speeding ticket in New Jersey is to prove that the state, county or municipality never approved the speed limit posted on the sign. However, even when the speed is incorrectly posted on the sign, there are certain situations in which a driver may be required to reduce his speed and if he fails to do so, he may be issued a ticket. These situations include when a driver is coming up on a railroad crossing, approaching the top of a hill, meandering through a narrow or winding road, just before a railroad crossing, or in dangerous weather conditions. In these situations, an officer may issue a ticket even if a person was driving in accordance with the posted speed signs.

Points & Fines if Convicted:

In New Jersey, if you obtain 12 points on your license, your license may be suspended. The number of points which a person receives for speeding depends on how many miles per hour that person was driving over the speed limit. When driving more than 1-14 mph over the speed limit, it will result in 2 points. When driving more than 15-29 mph over the limit, it will result in 4 points. When driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit, it will result in 5 points. Furthermore, if you receive a reckless driving ticket as a result of excessive speeding, you will face even more points. A ticket for reckless driving carries 5 points on your license in addition to those given for speeding. A reckless driving charge will often be given in addition to a speeding ticket when a person is driving more than 30 mph higher than the speed limit or over 90 mph.

In addition to points you may obtain on your license if you are convicted of speeding, you must also pay a fine. Under certain circumstances, the fines that attach to speeding tickets can be doubled, for example, when a driver is driving at least 20 mph over the speed limit, speeding where the limit is 65 mph, or speeding in a construction area. Sometimes, these violations can even result in a 15 day jail sentence.

Out of State Drivers:

It is difficult to generalize penalties for out-of-state speeders because some states allot the same number of points for all out-of-state charges while others accept the number of points given by the state where the offense took place. For example, New Jersey may give 2 points for speeding, but another state may give all out of state speeding offenses 1 point. However, one fact regarding out-of-state speeding penalties can be generalized and this is that a speeding ticket will follow an out-of-state resident home. Under New Jersey law, New Jersey has reciprocity with most other states so that a speeding ticket in New Jersey will not just disappear when a person returns to their domicile.

Speeding Defenses:

In addition to arguing that the speed limit posted on the sign was never approved by the state or municipality, there are many other defenses to speeding. Two major ways of defense fall in the arena of radar and laser use to detect speed. Evidence provided by a radar or laser to prove that a person was driving a certain speed is allowed in New Jersey court, but certain procedures must be followed in order for the evidence to be admissible.

With respect to the radar, the prosecution must show that the officer who utilized the radar had a current operator's card and this card must be presented at trial. Secondly, the prosecution must provide calibration and tuning fork certificates to prove that the radar was both tested and working correctly. With respect to the laser, the prosecution must prove that the officer utilizing the laser was correctly trained to use it and that it was used properly. For example, evidence produced by the laser cannot be used if it is taken from a distance of 1,000 feet or more. Additionally the laser is more sensitive than a radar and often provides inaccurate information in poor weather conditions. If the laser was utilized during snowfall or heavy rain, its results may be inadmissible in court.