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  1. #1
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    Feb 2017
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    Default Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: New Jersey

    So I attend Rutgers University. I was parked at a meter because I was visiting my brother's apartment, who also attends Rutgers University. While I was with my brother, I receive a phone call from a friend that he needs a jump start and he is a few blocks away. So I get in my car and start going towards him. Not even 1 minute later, Rutgers Police pulls me over and says my headlights were not on. Now I understand this is completely my fault, but the street was fully lit and I literally just pulled out of a parking space, I didn't have much time at all to realize my headlights weren't on.

    Now my issue doesn't end here. While the cop tried to justify he was being nice and didn't give me a ticket for the headlight offense (which he says is two points), he instead gave me a ticket for Statute No. 39:97.2. This is for operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner. While this has no points attached to it, I am very worried it will raise my insurance. Less than a year ago I received another ticket, which was obstruction of the passage of vehicles. I was actually speeding, but the cop was nice and gave me this ticket, and I thought I would just pay the fine and be done. He even said it wouldn't affect my insurance at all, since no points were attached. Well it turned out that my insurance company, Geico, interpreted that obstruction ticket as 'failure to yield to other vehicles' in their system. This raised my insurance by $800 / year for 3 years (total of $2400). I am really scared as to how much more my insurance will go up now, because the citation for operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner seems much much worse than my previous ticket.

    I don't think going to court will help my situation, because I was guilty. What are the chances that the officer doesn't show up and my ticket ends up being dismissed? If I do go to court and the officer shows up, can I plead guilty with an explanation or something along those lines? Again the fine isn't what I'm worried about, it is only $50, I don't want my insurance to go up anymore for a ticket like this

    Also I am 18 years old and on my parent's insurance (which is why Geico wants any excuse to raise our insurance). Being cited for something like this really makes me upset. I always notice when my headlights are off, but it was a univesity main street that I was on and had street lamps every where, I didn't even get a quarter of the mile down the road before being pulled over.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2016
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    Default Re: Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    Quote Quoting masood14
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    What are the chances that the officer doesn't show up and my ticket ends up being dismissed?
    Close to ZERO. By the way, thanks for posting all the unnecessary detail which has nothing to do with your traffic offense.

    Quote Quoting masood14
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    If I do go to court and the officer shows up, can I plead guilty with an explanation or something along those lines?
    Why do you think that will help you?


    You need to check with NJ DMV to find out if this violation will add points to your driving record or if it's just considered an equipment violation.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    Doesn't really matter if you broke the law for one minute or one hour.

    Even though there are no points assessed against your license, the citations still appear on the motor vehicle report that the insurance company obtains on every renewal.

    The officer gets paid to show up. Won't be just for your citation. Many of his will be scheduled for that day.

    Guilty with an explanation is still guilty but you might ask if you can take traffic school and get the ticket dismissed.

    Unfortunately, you have to accept the fact that teenage drivers are high risk and expensive to insure. Rack up a ticket a year and your parents are going to be very unhappy.

    Sorry, I don't have any optimistic advice for you.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    Quote Quoting Highwayman
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    Close to ZERO. By the way, thanks for posting all the unnecessary detail which has nothing to do with your traffic offense.



    Why do you think that will help you?


    You need to check with NJ DMV to find out if this violation will add points to your driving record or if it's just considered an equipment violation.
    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    Doesn't really matter if you broke the law for one minute or one hour.

    Even though there are no points assessed against your license, the citations still appear on the motor vehicle report that the insurance company obtains on every renewal.

    The officer gets paid to show up. Won't be just for your citation. Many of his will be scheduled for that day.

    Guilty with an explanation is still guilty but you might ask if you can take traffic school and get the ticket dismissed.

    Unfortunately, you have to accept the fact that teenage drivers are high risk and expensive to insure. Rack up a ticket a year and your parents are going to be very unhappy.

    Sorry, I don't have any optimistic advice for you.
    I did some research last night. The officer said he was giving me a break and gave me a ticket for 'unsafe driving' because he said the other ticket would give me points. The ticket he gave me does not give me points, but I know it will raise my insurance. The issue with the ticket he gave me was that if you get that offense 3 times, it can give you up to 4 points and my insurance went up a lot for a ticket that can never give you points.

    The statute i found "39:3-47 Illuminating Devices Required; Violations, Fines" has no points at all attached and has a maximum fine of $50. Can't I go to court and say that he gave me the wrong ticket. He even wrote verbatim on the ticket "Unsafe: No headlights". I would much rather have this ticket than the one the officer gave me....

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    Quote Quoting masood14
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    The statute i found "39:3-47 Illuminating Devices Required; Violations, Fines" has no points at all attached and has a maximum fine of $50. Can't I go to court and say that he gave me the wrong ticket. He even wrote verbatim on the ticket "Unsafe: No headlights". I would much rather have this ticket than the one the officer gave me....
    You can argue wrong ticket but I don't think it's going to do you any good.

    However, I think the officer might have done you a favor.

    39:3-47 is objective. You either did it or you didn't.

    39:4-97.2 is subjective:

    1. a. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, it shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner likely to endanger a person or property.
    It appears to give you the opportunity to defend based on driving with your lights off at that moment and under those conditions that you describe was not unsafe.

    Go back and take photos of that well-lit street at the time of night shown on the ticket.

    It's a long shot.

  6. #6
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    Feb 2017
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    Default Re: Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    You can argue wrong ticket but I don't think it's going to do you any good.

    However, I think the officer might have done you a favor.

    39:3-47 is objective. You either did it or you didn't.

    39:4-97.2 is subjective:
    I want to go with the option that will effect my insurance the least. Do you think if I go to court and argue the wrong ticket, they could change it? I believe that my insurance company might not raise our premium for the no headlight ticket versus the unsafe driving one.

    If you don't think that will work, then I'll try and fight the ticket with the method you listed. Thanks for all the help btw!

  7. #7
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    If either ticket will show up on your motor vehicle report, then either ticket is likely to have the same effect on your insurance rates.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Default Re: Driving With Your Headlights Turned Off at Night

    It's not the "wrong" charge. One could certainly articulate the unsafe driving based upon the facts.

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