What is Municipal Court?
Each County in the State of New Jersey has a Superior Court which handles most civil and criminal lawsuits. These include Small Claims, Special Civil Part, Family Part, Chancery Part, Law Division and the Criminal Division. The Municipal Court in each town handles matters including disorderly and petty persons offenses, violation of the Motor Vehicle and traffic laws, fishing and gaming violations, violations of municipal ordinances. In each Town there is a Prosecutor. This person is an attorney who prosecutes the cases before the Court. All violations, unless brought by a business or something such as a civil complaint, are tried by the Court. The Prosecutor represents the State, not you.
What if I feel I need representation, but I can not afford an attorney?
First, you should know, that you may represent yourself in the Municipal Court, as well as the State (Superior Court), unless you are a corporation. If you represent yourself, you have the right to call witnesses, cross-examine the State’s witnesses and present evidence to the judge. You must remember that you are always innocent until proven guilty by the State beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you do not feel that you can or want to represent yourself, and you are of very limited financial means, you may apply in the Municipal Court for a Public Defender. Each Court has one, but you must fill out an Application, and the Municipal Court Judge will review same and make a determination as to whether you qualify for a Public Defender. The usual level that the Courts use is whether the Applicant falls above or below the poverty line.
If I get a traffic ticket, what are points?
Points are the system by which the Department of Motor Vehicle keeps track of persons who constantly violate the traffic laws. A single traffic offense, normally, will not result in your licence being suspended, unless such violation by statute mandates a suspension (i.e. Conviction of Driving While Intoxicated, Refusal to submit to a Blood Alcohol Test, Misstatement of Fact, Counterfeit Driver’s Licence, Leaving the scene of an accident in a commercial vehicle and some others). Every citizen in New Jersey should know that under the New Jersey Administrative Code if you accumulate 12 – 15 points in a two (2) year period, the Commission of Motor Vehicles may suspend your licence for a period of thirty (30) days.
Points range anywhere from 2 points to 5 points per violation, and fines can range from $33.00 up to $2,000 per violation.
How can I remove points from my license?
The Commission of Motor Vehicles allows person with points on their licence to enroll in a Defensive Driving Program. You may only take the defensive driving class once every five years for the two point reduction and once every three years for the auto insurance discount. You do not need points to take the class. It may be taken just to lower your auto insurance. Online courses are not approved for point & insurance reductions. In New Jersey, you must take a six hour classroom NJ MVC approved defensive driving course taught by a certified instructor for the two-point reduction on your NJ Motor Vehicle driving record and up to 10% off your personal New Jersey automobile insurance premiums for three years. Upon completion you will receive a National Safety Council DDC wallet size card and a wall certificate with your NJ driver’s license information on them. Which you submit a copy to your insurance company for the auto insurance discount.
The organization that you take the course with will usually submit your NJ license number for the DMV two point reduction. A good site for this information is www.njdefensivedriving.com.