Drivers are usually unhappy to see lights from a police car flashing behind them. As unfortunate as it might be for New Jersey residents to receive a traffic ticket, for people who live out of state, it can be quite inconvenient – even problematic.
As in other states, traffic violations are taken seriously in New Jersey, and the consequences reflect that sentiment. Neglecting to take care of a traffic ticket is not a good idea for anyone, including out-of-state drivers. But how do out-of-state drivers handle traffic ticket cases? Do they have to attend court? Can they be handled in some other way? This article will answer these questions for non-New Jersey residents who are ticketed in the state.
What Is an Affidavit of Hardship?
An affidavit of hardship is a letter detailing why a driver may be unable to attend an in-state hearing. If a person decides to pursue this, they should write it and send it off well before the court date. While courts prefer drivers to attend court, living out of state can place an undue burden on people. The state recognizes this, so it offers the affidavit of hardship as a solution.
However, people can reschedule their court date for a time that better fits their schedule. New Jersey law allows drivers to request continuances for their cases. This request can be handled by the driver or their attorney. It requires a call to explain why the person cannot attend on the date scheduled. The judge then decides whether to reschedule…it’s not guaranteed that the date will be changed. However, a judge may view a case more favorably and appreciate the driver being there in person rather than not showing up at all.
What the Affidavit of Hardship Letter Does Not Tell Drivers
The affidavit route may be preferred to showing up for a traffic ticket case. However, there may be better decisions one can make as there are several things to be aware of when filing an affidavit of hardship.
- Even if a person doesn't show up, the police officer who issued the ticket will still show up. They can recall and share the details of the traffic incident and give their side of the story. Typically, their account of what happened will not favor the driver.
- New Jersey participates in the Driver's License Compact, which provides for the exchange of information among other states. So, traffic violations can still affect an out-of-state driver’s license once they return back home.
- An out-of-state driver has the right to hire an attorney to represent them in court. When drivers hire an attorney, they don't need to appear in court. This is a great alternative to sending an affidavit of hardship and not having representation during the court proceedings.
People should always be aware of all the choices they have. Unfortunately, sometimes the easiest option isn't always the best one for dealing with a driver's traffic ticket. An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help decide how to handle your situation.
Should I Attend My Court Case Instead?
If a driver wants to defend themselves and tackle the traffic ticket head-on, it would be best to show up to court. Sending a letter may seem to make more sense for people out-of-state, but attending will give the driver (or their attorney) an opportunity to tell their side of the story. The judge may have questions for the driver that could factor into a final decision on the matter.
New Jersey courts take not showing up for a court date very seriously, especially when the driver flagrantly ignores the ticket. When that happens, a warrant can be issued for the person's arrest. Of course, deciding to attend a court case is entirely up to the individual.
If traveling back to New Jersey is difficult, one should consider hiring a New Jersey attorney to represent them in court. When an attorney represents a driver in court, they don't have to be present for the traffic case. In addition, they will have gathered all of the necessary information to create a defense. A written statement may be unnecessary, but it’s best to discuss this strategy with an attorney.
Why Municipal Courts Will Send an Affidavit in Lieu of Appearance Letter
The courts can make a driver feel that the affidavit is a better choice for everyone involved in the case. However, the court benefits the most from sending an affidavit to the driver. When the driver doesn't show up, the case moves along quickly, saving it time. However, the statement won't hold much weight for drivers who want to defend themselves. Proving innocence is much more difficult when drivers don't show up or aren't represented by an attorney in court.
What Should Drivers Do Instead of Submitting the Affidavit?
For out-of-state drivers who want to challenge the ticket and believe they can win, there are three alternatives to writing an affidavit.
- Show up in court - If one can make the original court date, go. If coming to the court date is simply a minor inconvenience, it's better to be slightly uncomfortable than to accept fines and penalties.
- Reschedule the court date - Rescheduling is straightforward. Being an out-of-state driver, the courts will understand the hurdles one will have to overcome to get to court.
- Get an attorney - This may be the best option for many out-of-state drivers. Proper representation is very important in these cases. If showing up or rescheduling isn't feasible, the attorney will be there instead. So, even if the driver is not present, they’ll have a chance at fighting the ticket.
Who Should I Contact?
Out-of-state drivers who have received a traffic violation in New Jersey should immediately contact an attorney. Getting legal representation will make you proactive in your traffic case and help you steer clear of unnecessary consequences. Rosenblum Law has experienced traffic lawyers that can help you challenge and win your traffic case. We will be there if you cannot make it, and we will be there alongside you in court if you can attend in person. Call us for a free consultation today.