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NJ Improper Passing Lawyer – NJSA 39:4-85

An experienced lawyer can help you fight your improper passing ticket and avoid adding points to your record.  An improper passing ticket in violation of NJSA 39:4-85 carries 4 points.  At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, I regularly help clients fight New Jersey traffic tickets. I have worked for nearly a decade as both a municipal prosecutor and defense attorney. I am familiar with the local courts, judges, and prosecutors, as well as the legal process itself. 

New Jersey traffic laws are strict for a reason.  Our roadways are often crowded and traffic patterns can change frequently with construction.  Passing other vehicles is only permitted under certain circumstances. Usually, when the driver is able to safely pass the traffic lanes are marked as allowing passing. This is usually with broken marker lines.  Improper passing is a four-point offense.

Hiring an experienced defense lawyer gives you an edge.  I know the court procedures and players involved. I will work to smooth the process and avoid roadblocks along the way.  Hiring a good lawyer is even more important if your improper passing ticket was issued in connection with an accident.  The improper passing ticket could be used as evidence that you caused the accident if the other driver decides to sue for damages. It is critical to obtain a civil reservation in such cases. 

If you have been charged with an improper passing violation, I will work to either get your ticket dismissed or get the points reduced to zero points.  To discuss defense options and explain what happened, call or contact my office for a free initial consultation.

Tickets for improper passing can result in a four-point violation on your driving record. Those points will stay there for a minimum of two years. If you reach the 6-point threshold, you trigger annual DMV surcharges. Also, expect an increase in auto insurance costs. As a municipal court prosecutor and experienced defense attorney, I have litigated hundreds of these violations.

Aside from dinging your driving record and raising your insurance, an improper passing ticket can be the first element in proving you caused an accident or were involved in reckless driving.  In fact, you could also get a speeding ticket if you exceeded the speed limit while trying to pass—unless it is obvious to the police that the driver you were trying to pass sped up to prevent you from passing, in which case that person could get ticketed.

What is improper passing?

You can be ticketed for improper passing in New Jersey in one of the following ways:

  • Passing a vehicle proceeding in the opposite direction on the left.
  • You pass a vehicle proceeding in the same direction on the right—unless the vehicle you are passing is about to make a left turn and there are at least two lanes of traffic proceeding in your direction.
  • Passing a vehicle by moving to the left when the oncoming lane has approaching traffic not far enough ahead to permit safe passing.
  • You cross a “No Passing” solid line on the highway—unless instructed to do so by a law enforcement officer.

How much will I be fined?

If convicted of improper passing, (except in the case of a school bus) you could be fined not less than $52 nor more than $202. Improperly passing in a construction or highway repair area, the amount will be doubled. If convicted of passing on the right in a “no Passing” zone, you will also receive a four-point assessment on your driving record. Passing a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction on the right will result in a five-point assessment.

What you should know before you pass

Penalties for Improper Passing Under NJSA 39:4-85 and 39:4-86

The rules governing improper passing are contained in NJSA 39:4-85 and 39:4-86.  Under NJSA 39:4-85, vehicles must generally pass other vehicles driving in the same direction on the left-hand side.  If the vehicle in front is making a left turn, the driver can pass on the right, but only if passing is possible without driving onto the shoulder, sidewalk or otherwise leaving the road.  The driver must also make sure that it is safe before returning to the right lane after passing.

NJSA 39:4-86 spells out the circumstances where it is not safe to pass another vehicle under any circumstances.  Under the law, it is not safe to pass:

  • At railroad crossings
  • Where a sign indicates that passing is not permitted (i.e., a “No Passing Zone”)
  • When the center line is a double-yellow line or indicates that passing is not permitted (on roads with only one lane in each direction, passing is permitted only when the center line indicates, oncoming traffic is clear and sightlines are good)
  • Around hills, inclines, and curves where the driver’s sightlines may be impaired
  • At street crossings and intersections
  • In tunnels, underpasses and certain narrow bridges
  • When another vehicle is stopped to allow pedestrians to cross

Violating any of these rules can result in financial penalties and points on your driving record.  Penalties for improper passing in New Jersey can include:

  • Points. New Jersey puts four points on your driving record for improper passing.
  • Fines. The municipal court can impose fines of between $50 and $200, in addition to court costs.  Fines can be increased for improper passing in a school zone, designated 65-mph zone or construction zone.
  • Insurance increases.  Car insurance companies may increase your rates by as much as 20%.
  • License suspension.  While not specifically listed as a penalty, judges have the ability to suspend your license at their discretion.  To suspend your license, the judge must find that you acted willfully.

Under New Jersey law, if you collect six or more points in a three-year period, the Motor Vehicle Commission will impose an annual surcharge.  That surcharge is equal to $150 for three years, plus another $25 for every point over six on your driving record.  If you collect 12 or more points, you will lose your driver’s license.

Know the rules on passing a school bus and avoid the ticket. When you see that yellow school bus, you can avoid a ticket for improper passing by following these rules:

  • On a two-lane highway stop at least 25 feet from the stopped school bus which is loading and discharging children. This applies to both directions of traffic.
  • On a highway with a physical barrier dividing the lanes, cars on the same side of the road must stop at least 25 feet behind the bus. Vehicles coming from the opposite side of the highway may pass, but at no more than 10 miles per hour until they see the bus in their rearview mirrors.
  • When the bus is on the same side of a highway and is picking up or discharging students at the school or day camp, cars may pass, but not faster than 10 miles per hour.

Why you need an Experienced Defense Lawyer to fight your improper passing ticket

If you decide to contest the ticket and go to court, just like any other offense, the state must prove you violated the law. At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, we understand how a defense can work based on the facts in the case.

Perhaps there were exigent circumstances or an emergency situation involved. Maybe the ticketing officer made some error of fact on the citation. Maybe you illegally passed someone to avoid hitting someone or something else.

Your defense lawyer will:

  • Advise you how to respond to the judge’s anticipated questions in a way that won’t hurt your case.
  • Give you a quick walkthrough the legal processes involved in traffic ticket cases, which are generally less complex than other legal proceedings.
  • Negotiate a potential plea agreement, preferably to zero-points.
  • Interact on your behalf with the prosecutor and judge, both of whom are frequently pressed for time and prefer efficient interactions with an experienced defense lawyer.
  • Take your case to trial if a reasonable plea cannot be reached.

Why Hire Skilled Lawyer to Help with Your Improper Passing Defense

Like any other offense, the prosecution must prove that you passed in violation of the law in order to impose the ticket. At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, I understand when a defense will work based on the facts of your case.  I will also:

  • Help you understand how to respond to a judge’s questions to avoid hurting your case.
  • Walk you through the legal process, which tends to proceed quickly in traffic ticket cases.
  • Handle interactions with the prosecutor and judge, who are often pressed for time and appreciate efficiency.

An improper passing ticket might seem like a small issue at first glance.  Unfortunately, the financial consequences can be long-lasting.  This applies especially to car insurance ramifications. Even if you have a clean driving record, adding four points can put you at risk of state-mandated penalties and increased insurance costs. 

I have hundreds of five-star reviews from satisfied clients. I handle every case personally.  Contact my office today to learn more about my practice, experience and how I can help.

Call Today for a Free Initial Consultation with an Experienced Improper Passing Ticket Lawyer

Fighting an improper passing ticket can help you avoid the long-term financial consequences of a serious traffic ticket.  I am an experienced traffic ticket lawyer who is skilled in helping clients beat improper passing tickets across New Jersey.  To learn more about how I will fight to win your improper traffic ticket case, call my office today.  Your first consultation is always free.

Frequently Asked Questions About Improper Passing Charges

FAQ: Can I exceed the speed limit in order to safely pass another vehicle?  What if the vehicle I am trying to pass speeds up?

Exceeding the speed limit while passing can result in two violations: (1) the improper passing ticket and (2) a speeding ticket.  Speeding is not excused merely because you were passing.  On the other hand, under NJSA 39:4-87, the vehicle you are trying to pass is not permitted to speed up or try to prevent you from passing.  In other words, police can issue a ticket to the driver who tried to prevent you from passing.

FAQ: I got an improper passing ticket after passing to avoid hitting something else.  Is the ticket valid?

Yes.  Police have the authority to cite you for improper passing if you violate the terms of the law.  It does not technically matter why you passed improperly.  However, the rationale for the improper passing can be used to help your case in court.  A judge may be convinced to let the ticket go based upon your explanation if it is presented properly.  Call today to learn more about fighting your ticket.

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    “Mr. Vecchio was very thorough and efficient. His team was accommodating and the ultimate outcome was better than expected. Mr. Vecchio kept me up to date with every detail via emails and text messages. An all around good guy and family man.”
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