Speeding Tickets
August 9, 2004 7:10 AM   Subscribe

SpeedingTicketFilter: I have a New Jersey License and I got a ticket in Maryland... [more inside]
posted by MsVader to Law & Government (20 answers total)
My condolences.
posted by adampsyche at 7:10 AM on August 9, 2004

Response by poster: OK - it was late at night (like 1:00 am), and I was driving south on I-95. I was alerted to congestion ahead and advised to take the I-895 split. Little did I know that the speed limit went from 65 (on I-95) to 50 (on I-895). So now I have a ticket that says I was going 35 miles over the posted speed limit.

My question is - how many points will I be given for this? From what I've been able to find, anything over 30 mph over the limit gets you 5 points. But, I also found that any moving violation in another state gets me 2 points. I'm confused.

Obviously I want to go fight it (to at least get points reduced), but is it worth it?

Also - I'll be moving to the state of Maryland in two weeks. How will that complicate matters?
posted by MsVader at 7:11 AM on August 9, 2004

It's always worth fighting every ticket. I've had mixed results for points from one state transferring to another, with the trend being that they are supposed to follow you buy haven't, but definitely go to fight it.
posted by adampsyche at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2004

If you're moving to MD, and will get an MD license, your points are supposed to follow you, but when I moved from NJ to PA, and got a new license, my disgustingly high number was not transferred. They did, however, follow me back when I got an NJ license again.
posted by adampsyche at 7:20 AM on August 9, 2004

Response by poster: If what I read was true, NJ would only charge me 2 points for a moving violation in another state, so trying to get the charges reduced in MD might be pointless, since I'd still get 2 points anyway. Or am I not understanding this at all?
posted by MsVader at 7:25 AM on August 9, 2004

They tagged you at 85 in the Harbor Tunnel Throughway 50 zone? Yowzaa. I just drove down that stretch 48 hours ago, and, let's be honest among ourselves, you get plenty of warning on *US95S* that the limit's dropping to 55 long before you get to the HTT, and the signs that let you know the Throughway limit is just 50 are prominent and plentiful as well.

My point is not to give you a hard time, but rather to say that if I were you I would not pull any "Little did I know..." on the Court. They have people try to BS them all day long, with better stories than you've got. I'd plead guilty, but point out that traffic was light and you made a mistake, and ask for some lienency.

But you should fight it. There's no way that 35 over the limit is a 2 point offence, and 5 puts just barely this side of the Maryland 6 point potential licence suspension.

[On preview] Or you could hope for adams experience.
posted by mojohand at 7:42 AM on August 9, 2004

I had a similar thing happen -- those MD cops are evil! Anyway, since I was in MD fairly regularly, I went to my court date -- that alone got my number of points significantly reduced. 'Course, speeding tickets take a long time to go to trial... you'll be well settled into that state before you actually have to appear before a judge.

Did you get pulled over by one of their stealth cop cars?
posted by ph00dz at 7:45 AM on August 9, 2004

Response by poster: I guess I was just oblivious. I'd never taken that road before, there were no other cars around, and I seriously had no idea that the limit was 50 until I was pulled over and saw the 50 mph sign about 100 feet in front of me. If you say there's plenty of warning, then I'll take your word for it and beg for mercy.

I still don't really understand how interstate points are assigned.

On preview - I have no idea what kind of car it was that pulled me over, ph00dz. All I know is that there was no one around me and then all of the sudden there were headlights right on my ass. That's when I knew I was screwed.
posted by MsVader at 7:54 AM on August 9, 2004

Typically, if you bother to show up on the court date the prosecutor holds court in advance offering to amend the charge to lower the points in exchange for a guilty plea, but usually at the expense of a higher ticket charge plus you will have to pay court costs. Given the higher insurance costs for points and the possibility of accumulating more in the future and putting your license at risk I think this is a good deal. You will probably already be in Maryland by the court date. I would call the Maryland DMV to find out about how the points will be applied there. When you go to get a license there they may just apply their own standard regardless of how NJ treats the points.
posted by caddis at 7:59 AM on August 9, 2004

The last two times I fought a ticket (not in Maryland)- I just had to sit in a room for two hours then listen to their plea offer, accept it, and have my points lowered (but not the fine) with no lawyer or work on my part. Another time, I fought a ticket on my own, the Person for the city circled my speeding violations, asked me if I really intended to fight the ticket, I staunchly said yes, and he still reduced the points and the fine.

So I guess what I'm saying is show up, or if you can't show up, hire a lawyer. They will probably cost less than your insurance.
posted by drezdn at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2004

Can you No-Lo on a speeding ticket? If so, I would highly suggest it (usually have to pay a fine, but it goes off the record and doesn't hit your insurance but can only use it about once every five years).
posted by jmd82 at 12:05 PM on August 9, 2004

Response by poster: What's this "No-Lo" that you speak of, jmd82? This isn't a term I'm familiar with.
posted by MsVader at 12:47 PM on August 9, 2004

You go 85 in a 65 zone normally? Was that you that was on my ass on the Baltimore beltway last month?

Anyway, lecturing aside, you may want to talk to a lawyer (in Maryland), especially since 5 points would put you close to an automatic suspension, as mojohand points out. You also may be able to do a nolo or prayer-for-judgment-continued plea, and that's something a good traffic lawyer can advise you.

You may be lucky and have my experience a few years ago: I was a Georgia resident and got pulled over in North Carolina. The cop had me dead to rights. On the informal advice of my family's insurance agent in NC, I just paid the ticket by mail and no points ever showed up on my GA license, and my GA insurance never went up, so I was only out the fine.

On preview: IANAL, but a "nolo contendre" or "prayer for judgment continued" plea is essentially like a guilty plea with probation built in -- you're admitting responsibility but it doesn't stay on your record or (hopefully) go to your insurance company. Kind of like a free pass, but you only get them every 5/10 years or so, depending on the state.
posted by Vidiot at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2004

I had the same question. Speeding ticket in AZ, living in MA, NJ lisence. I just paid the fine. Good luck fighting the system. I looked into programs to avoid the fine hitting the insuarance radar, but it didn't seem worth the trouble.
posted by brent at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2004

Vidiot - is a "nolo contendre" the same thing as a "No Contest" plea? Because I tried that play with a MD traffic judge a number of years ago and he replied "Sorry, I won't accept a no contest plea." It was either guilty or not guilty.

But that was then - Jeez, that was probably more than 20 years ago, now that I think on it - and I was pretty scruffy. He might have just meant "I won't accept that plea from you, hippie!"
posted by mojohand at 1:26 PM on August 9, 2004

As I understand it, it's pretty similar. (Once again, IANAL.) I believe it varies by state, so that's another argument for consulting a lawyer in the same state as the court in question.
posted by Vidiot at 1:42 PM on August 9, 2004

So Ms. V - you're probably ahead of me, but let me synthesize all this with real answer. If I were you I would:

Keep my NJ licence until after my MD court date (which will be a few months out, as warned) I'm sure you're not supposed to do this, but it's a minor infraction, I think.

If I could afford a lawyer, I'd bring one to the court date. But either way, go, and look seriously at the strategies posted above.

Once I'd taken the Maryland hit, then I'd get myself down to the local MD MVA (get there mid-month, Tues - Thursday, and line up about a half hour BEFORE the 8:30 opening unless spending a day with sullen, moronic, & useless functionaries is your idea of a good time) and get myself my shiny new MD license and cross my fingers that the points I got flew north to NJ and didn't track me down south.

And there is some good news: If it all goes down the tubes at your hearing, it looks like the MD suspension threshold has moved to 8 points, which even with a 5 point ticket gives you a little beathing room, since the trooper didn't tag you with a Reckless Driving hit to go with your speeding ticket, which he surely could have.
posted by mojohand at 2:02 PM on August 9, 2004

NoLo, no contest, etc are all the same here in Athens, GA. However, things apply a little bit differently down here being a college town. Judges tend to be pretty lenient. However, I was curious because I've only heard of No-Lo's working in minor moving infractions, like running a red light, stop sign, failure to yield, etc. The most important part is if the judge accepts, the ticket is dropped and it doesn't go on your insurance. However, IANAL, but your local car-insurance rep should be of free service to ask about the specifics.
posted by jmd82 at 2:45 PM on August 9, 2004

If you do ask your car insurance agent, I can promise you that they will pull your driving record before your next renewal, and they don't always pull it at each renewal. It costs the insurance company every time they pull a record and many do not pull them if you have had not accidents or comprehensive claims.

If you were moving from anywhere else (other than NJ) I'd tell you to expect a major jump in rate anyway but, NJ rates are high (as our most of Maryland's.)
posted by SuzySmith at 6:16 PM on August 9, 2004

Call the prosecutor's office. Usually, you'll talk to a nice, overburdened lady in her late forties. Explain that you *know* you shouldn't have been going that fast, but you just don't want to get the points because you can't afford no to drive (work). Don't go overboard with the aw-shucks, but be very nice. With any luck, (I've done this at least three times, after a lawyer I paid $150 to get a 10MPH over ticket fixed didn't show to court and I had a warrant out for my arrest) she'll talk to the prosecutor directly, and get the damn thing fixed without the points. You'll definitely have to pay the court costs and perhaps an uprated fine, but you get to skip the lawyer part, and the prosecutor has less paperwork (not going to court). Usually, that you have the cojones to call for yourself, and that you're pleasant, will get the job done.
posted by notsnot at 7:35 PM on August 9, 2004

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