The New Jersey Guide to Dealing with Traffic Tickets

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: February 18, 2021

No matter if you’ve been driving for six months or 60 years, getting tickets is a fact of life. Now you’ve found yourself with one. Whether this is your first citation or you’ve had a few, what you do next is what matters.

After receiving a New Jersey traffic ticket, you are faced with some choices. Do you just pay it and put it behind you? Do you fight it? Do you hire an attorney? Do you “throw yourself on the mercy of the court” and hope they can help? Or, do you just ignore it and hope it goes away?  Once you know your options step by step, you can pick the one that works best for you.

Let’s take a look at how you might attack the problem of getting a ticket. Of course, you should start by weighing your options but, after that, what’s next?

(I’m going to save you a little suspense here. That last step, the “safety course” one? That one is almost always your best choice, but who knows? One of the others might work just as well.)

You Got a Ticket. Now What?

Drivers react differently to getting tickets. Some get angry or indignant. Some are gracious, accepting the citation as an invitation to learn better for next time. Others view the infraction karmic-ly, figuring that even if they didn’t deserve the ticket this time, they probably got away with it (or worse) a dozen times in the past.

It’s not important if you experienced one of these reactions or something completely different. What is important is what you choose to do next. All you know is that you want to deal with this inconvenience with as little effort and expense as possible.

You could choose the zero effort and expense route and do nothing. I tried that once. It did not go well.

You could just pay the darn thing and chalk the fine up to hard-earned experience. This option is fairly low on the effort scale but fairly high on the expense side. And it won’t just be expensive now; it’ll be expensive later when your insurance renews.

You may feel that your ticket represented an attack on your driving superiority, and now you’re out for justice. What will it take to beat your ticket with an attorney?

Hire a Lawyer and Fight, Fight, Fight

Maybe you’ve seen billboards with pictures of smiling (or sometimes scowling) attorneys promising to join in your traffic-related crusade. Is this your best answer in terms of time and expense?

The internet is crawling with attorneys ready to go to war for you over your traffic ticket. Don’t believe me? Google “fight ticket with New Jersey attorney” and see how many results you get.

Most of these sites will boast of a 90%+ success rate, and many will make promises like

“Full refund if we are unable to keep the ticket off your record!”

Some of these will claim they’ll pay for your ticket as well.

These sites will also offer statistics encouraging you to employ them by implying you’d be stupid not to.

“One in four tickets is issued in error, yet only 5% of drivers contest their traffic tickets.”

Do you want to be in the 95% of suckers who don’t?

If you’re the type who likes to drive fast all the time, this may be an option. Many law firms have monthly memberships that will allow you to have…

“Unlimited back-and-forth with traffic lawyers. Chat with certified lawyers until you’re satisfied. About any legal issue—from big to small, and everything in between.”

The fight-it-with-a-lawyer option works like this:

Factoring in the time spent shopping for a lawyer, this option is fairly moderate on the effort scale. But, depending on what the firm charges, it may remain pretty high on the expense chart. At least your insurance won’t go up if the attorney manages to keep the ticket off your record.

But Your Honor, You Have to Understand…

You could skip hiring an attorney and head to the courthouse yourself and request one of three things:

A mitigation hearing is one where you request leniency because the fine represents an excessive financial burden. If you are successful, the court may reduce your fine, put you on a monthly payment plan, or allow you to work off your debt with community service.

A contested hearing is one you attend with the purpose of getting the conviction overturned.

Requesting permission to take a driver safety course is exactly what it sounds like.

For most minor violations, traffic courts in New Jersey may allow you to dismiss your ticket by completing a defensive driving course.

These decisions are made on a case by case basis, depending on the nature of your violation and your previous driving history. The court’s considerations include things like:

If the answer to these questions is no, you’re generally good to go.

If the court does grant permission, you will be given information as to how the process works, including:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Just like playing “Mother May I” when you were a kid, DO NOT start a defensive driving course before receiving permission. You’ll wind up paying for a second one and starting all over. Also, while most courts will accept an online course, you’ll want to make very sure your court will.

Taking Your New Jersey Defensive Driving Course

All driver safety courses follow the same basic curriculum. Your course will touch on topics such as:

At the end of the course, you will be required to pass a test over the presented material to be awarded a completion certificate. This certificate of completion can then be submitted to your court, keeping the conviction and associated points off of your driving record.

New Jersey drivers who complete defensive driving may be eligible for one of the following benefits:

You can find defensive driving courses taught both live in classrooms and online.  Online is often the more convenient option because it can be worked on wherever and whenever the student has the time.

Most courts in New Jersey will dismiss tickets with defensive driving if you meet their qualifications.  Each court is individual in its requirements, but generally, you will need to meet the following criteria:

If you meet these requirements, you may be eligible for ticket dismissal. In some cases, depending on the severity of your violation and previous driving history, you may be required to take defensive driving as a part of your sentencing.

In either case, you will receive procedural instructions from your court about which course you must take, the date the course must be completed, and any additional fines, fees, or documents you may need to submit.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on individual circumstances, some drivers may not be approved for ticket dismissal with a driver safety class, but it never hurts to ask!

If Your Court Says Yes

New Jersey Approved Defensive Driving

New Jersey defensive driving can be completed online or in a classroom. The most important point here is that the course must be approved by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).

For most busy folks, an online defensive driving course makes the most sense. Taking your course this way allows you to complete it all at once or a piece at a time, whenever you have the time. Online defensive driving is fast becoming the first choice for many New Jersey drivers. Start your search with some of New Jersey’s top online providers.

Best MVC-Approved Defensive Driving Schools

Website

Name

Phone

Register Now!

MyImprov.com

Improv Defensive Driving

800-391-8536

GoToTraffic
School.com

Go To Traffic School

888-329-7069

Best Choice

I Drive Safely

866-388-9068

DriversEd.com

NJ Defensive Driving by DriversEd

888-651-2886

DriveSafe
Today.com

Drive Safe Today

800-991-0310

SafeMotorist.com

American Safety Council

800-732-4135

DriveSafe
Online.com

DriveSafe, Inc.

800-733-6874

NTSI.com

National Traffic Safety Institute

800-733-6874

Driving
University.com

Driving University

877-937-4846

EasyNJDefensive
Driving.com

Easy New Jersey Defensive Driving

800-667-1692

AARPDriver
Safety.org

AARP

800-350-7025

247NewJersey
Defensive
Driving.com

24/7 New Jersey Defensive Driving

877-848-5754

CompleteToday
Defensive
Driving.com

Complete Today Defensive Driving

877-424-6050

GardenStateSafety
Council.com

Garden State Safety Council

631-360-2160

12DollarNewJersey
Driver.com

12 Dollar New Jersey Driver

844-812-8512

TrafficSchool
Online.com

Traffic School Online

800-800-3579

EasyFastCheap
Defensive
Driving.com

Easy-Fast-Cheap-Defensive Driving

800-554-8506

CheapDefensive
DrivingCourse.com

Cheap Defensive Driving Course

800-356-9705

NJDriverSafety.com

National Driving and Traffic School

877-790-7973

12DollarSchool
Online.com

12 Dollar School Online

844-305-9926

Defensive
Driving.com

Defensive Driving

713-488-4000

Safe2Drive.com

A & A Safe2Drive

800-763-1297

NJInsurance
Reduction.com

American Safety Institute

800-800-7121

DefensiveDriving
Group.com

Defensive Drivers Group

877-883-7290

DefensiveDriving
Express.com

Defensive Driving Express

800-594-0792

1SafeDriver.com

1 Safe Driver

888-750-6400

A Final Word

Ticket dismissal is not the only reason to take defensive driving. Find out how taking a course can keep you safer and put money in your pocket.

More Questions? We Have More Answers!

If this is your first time taking a New Jersey defensive driving course, or it’s been a minute since your last one, here is some more useful information just in case.

How long is the New Jersey defensive driving course?

New Jersey state law requires a defensive driving course to be five hours in length. The same standard applies whether the course is completed online or in the classroom.

For many drivers, taking the course online makes the task easier because it does not require you to carve a five hour chunk out of an already busy schedule. With the ability to log in and out as often as you wish, online courses allow you to complete the course at a pace that works best for you.

Why should I take a New Jersey defensive driving course?

If you have points on your driving record, voluntarily completing a New Jersey defensive driving course will remove two of them. This kindness can be taken advantage of once every five years, and it may prevent you from potentially receiving a nasty letter in the mail from the New Jersey MVC.

If your driving record accrues a total of 12-24 points in a two-year + period, the MVC will notify you of your need to complete a Driver Improvement Program (DIP) course. This course is offered in lieu of a six-month suspension of your license, so it’s not a bad idea to take them up on their offer. This classroom course is four hours long and will require you to pay the MVC an administrative fee of $75 dollars in addition to what you will have to pay the course provider. Using a much less expensive defensive driving course to keep your points from reaching twelve makes much more sense.

How much do 2 points affect insurance in NJ?

Depending on your insurance carrier, a single two point incident can increase your premiums from 10-38%. Conversely, removing two points from your driving record may reduce your insurance cost by that amount. This is another reason why taking defensive driving may be a great area for you. Who couldn’t use a little more money in their pockets?

Can you pay to have points removed from your New Jersey license?

Unfortunately, driving record points are not a problem you can just throw money at, at least not directly.

Points can be removed from a New Jersey driving record in three ways. Two require money, one only requires patience (and good behavior).

Whichever method you choose, remember that the sooner points come off your record, the sooner you can qualify for less expensive auto insurance.