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NJ Tailgating Tickets – NJSA 39:4-89

Defense Attorney for NJ Driving to Closely Tickets

Tailgating tickets in New Jersey are very serious. A conviction for following too closely, or “tailgating,” carries 5 motor vehicle points. As a municipal court prosecutor and experienced defense attorney, I have handled countless cases involving this offense.

Most people have experienced the stress of running late for an appointment, school, or work at some point. With so many vehicles on the road, chances are likely that following behind another driver who’s moving too slowly to accommodate your hectic schedule is an added inconvenience. Before you decide to show your frustrations by following too closely, however, it’s really in your best interests to consider the consequences.

What Does N.J.S.A 39:4-89 Mean?

While N.J.S.A. 39:4-89 doesn’t specify what a safe following distance is for passenger vehicles, it does articulate that one vehicle “shall not follow another . . . more closely than is reasonable or prudent.” Additionally, it states that regard should be given to the speed of the other vehicle(s), road, and weather conditions.

The statute does stipulate, however, that drivers of motor trucks shall remain a minimum distance of 100 feet behind another motor truck on a highway, unless one is passing the other.

What Is Considered Safe Following Distance in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) offers two ways to gauge a safe following distance in its driver manual. One is to allow for one car length for every 10 mph. Another quick measurement is the three-second rule. Without allowing it to distract you, choose a stationary object, such as a post, tree, or sign, and as soon as the vehicle in front of you passes it, begin counting off “one thousand-one, one thousand-two, one thousand-three.” If you pass the same object on three, you are most likely keeping a safe distance.

As the code states, though, other considerations, such as road conditions, weather, and traffic in general may have an impact on what is considered prudent following distance. The courts often rely on the judgment of the ticketing officer.

What Are New Jersey’s Penalties for Tailgating?

As with most matters involving traffic violations, the repercussions for tailgating can vary significantly depending on the circumstances. The following outcomes are the general rule for a guilty verdict:

  • Points: Following too closely, commonly called tailgating, is considered a serious offense by the NJ MVC. As such, it assigns five points to a convicted driver’s license. That’s sailing dangerously close to a surcharge at six points or even a suspension at 12.
  • Fines: A conviction for tailgating in New Jersey may carry a fine of between $50 and $200.
  • Court Costs: You will be charged $33 in court costs if you challenge the tailgating ticket in NJ.
  • Surcharges: A driver who receives six or more points is required to make three annual payments of $150 plus $25 for each point over six.
  • Suspension: Accruing 12 or more points results in the MVC automatically suspending the driver’s license. Again, with an added five points for tailgating, one can easily reach 12 points.
  • Jail Time: N.J.S.A 39:4-89 does allow the court discretionary latitude with imposing a maximum of 15 days in jail.
  • Insurance Rate Increase:  Because tailgating is often associated with collisions and other insurance claims, a conviction can result in a significant increase in rates.

What Happens if You’re Involved in an Accident and Ticketed for Tailgating in NJ?

If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident and cited for following too closely, it’s imperative you retain the services of an experienced New Jersey traffic attorney. Pleading guilty to tailgating may be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit. You could be held liable for any injuries, mental anguish, or property damage that occurred as a result of the accident. A skilled lawyer will evaluate all the evidence and help guide you through the most effective defense.

What Are the Possible Defense Options for a NJ Tailgating Charge?

Depending on the circumstances, you may have a reasonable defense against the charge of tailgating. Because the law relies on the judgment of the citing officer, there may be some room to prove subjective interpretation of events, such as the following considerations:

  • You were following at a safe and prudent distance for the road conditions and traffic situation.
  • The vehicle in front of you was being driven erratically.
  • The officer’s vantage point prevented a clear view or assessment.

How Can a New Jersey Attorney Help Me Fight a Tailgating Ticket?

Because tailgating is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents, especially those involving injuries, New Jersey law enforcement, courts, and insurance companies consider it a major traffic violation. As stated above, a conviction can carry serious financial and legal ramifications.

An experienced attorney who is well-versed in New Jersey’s traffic laws can evaluate the circumstances of your case and provide you with the most effective strategies for a successful defense. 

What Experience Does Anthony J. Vecchio Offer?

The New Jersey law firm offers extensive experience with client defense in a wide range of traffic ticket charges. Mr. Vecchio has achieved positive results in his defense of clients facing reckless driving, speeding, and driving on a suspended license in addition to those charged with DUI and DWI offenses. He comprehensively researches each case to provide his clients with the most effective representation.

Additionally, Mr. Vecchio is a skilled criminal defense attorney. His expertise as a negotiator and trial lawyer combined with his finesse in personal injury cases provides a critical foundation for the analysis required to vigorously defend clients charged with tailgating in an accident. The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio assesses witness and officer statement inconsistencies and works on its clients’ behalf to eliminate or reduce charges. Mr. Vecchio’s team investigates the road conditions, lighting, weather, and the behaviors of other drivers.

The attorney evaluates the officer’s report and compares it with the evidence. He aggressively pursues justice for his clients. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with N.J.S.A. 39:4-89, you need to ensure your rights are properly represented by an attorney with a thorough understanding of New Jersey’s traffic laws and court systems. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio for a free initial consultation by completing an online form or calling (800)418-8578.

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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.”
    “I have been working with Anthony on my husband’s out of state case for a few days now. He is punctual and doesn’t make you feel like you are asking too many questions in such a stressful time. He knows exactly what is happening before you even tell him. He is very professional and treats you like a human at the same time with the most respect.”
    "Anthony was instrumental in making the worst time in my life manageable. He's smart, intuitive and most of all he gave me peace of mind. I would recommend him to anyone looking for a sharp, progressive attorney who knows how to navigate the law."

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