McLaughlin and Nardi’s attorneys regularly appear in New Jersey’s municipal courts to represent people and businesses charged with speeding.
Speed limits in the State of New Jersey are 25 miles per hour when passing through a school zone during recess or while children are going to or leaving school, or when the presence of children is clearly visible from the roadway; 25 miles per hour in a business or residential district; 25 miles per hour in a suburban business or residential district; and 50 miles per hour in other locations, except in marked 65-mile-per-hour zones on public highways. According to the “Sixty-Five MPH Speed Limit Implementation Act,” drivers are subject to double the fine for going 10 miles per hour faster than the speed limit in an area designated as having a speed limit of 65 miles per hour.
Technology makes it easier for law enforcement to catch speeders, but some defenses remain if the case goes to trial. In court, defendants have questioned the nature of school districts, business districts, and residential districts where the alleged infractions occurred. Prosecutors do not need to show that the driver intended to exceed the speed limit. Courts find operating a vehicle at speeds greater than the limit to be an issue of fact which needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. New Jersey Municipal Court judges will rely on proof of speeding without searching to determine the driver’s intent as a matter of public safety. However, evidence of a willful violation of speeding laws may result in a revocation of driving privileges.
Courts have questioned the reliability of speed detecting equipment when technology is new, requiring the prosecution to establish reliability with expert scientific proof. However, New Jersey courts recognize speed detecting instruments that “operate on the principle of radar” and laser technology. Speed measurements taken at greater than 1,000 feet need to be supported with adequate expert testimony for that case to be admitted. The New Jersey municipal court judge does not need to make a specific finding about the precise speed at which the driver was traveling if it has proof that the person was exceeding the speed limit. Courts have been known to take into account weather conditions, specifically heavy rain or falling snow, in terms of the reliability of readings on a laser speed detector, and require expert testimony to support the readings.
If in doubt, the burden is on the municipal prosecutor to prove the applicable speed limit in the area of the infraction. Law enforcement officers have to show that they had adequate training in using the device and also that they tested the equipment before the speed measurement to verify accuracy of the reading.
If a driver wants to appeal a speeding conviction, he or she may appeal municipal court decisions first to the Law Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court, which gives the issue a fresh review on the record. Although the Law Division judge makes a new decision, the Law Division judge does not assess the credibility of witnesses, so he or she defers to credibility findings of the municipal court judge. However, the Law Division judge may reach a different result.
Facing a speeding violation has significant ramifications and should not be undertaken alone including points and adverse insurance effects. The attorneys at McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC, are experienced in handling these types of legal matters, and we can help. E-mail us or call 973-890-0004. We are conveniently located in Totowa, New Jersey in Passaic Count, with easy access to Newark, Paterson, Jersey City and New York.