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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    6

    Default Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    I'm in a very rural part of NJ (yes it does exist), I was having a 2 section (2 trucks) Modular home delivered to a new home site, I'm on record as the licensed Builder & the Realtor. This is the first modular home I've done.

    The road the lot is on has seven other houses, a road used as a short cut to save all of 20 seconds from going to the next street. I've been told how the neighbors in the area hate me for building a new home there, they have that "everyone wants to be the last one in" mentality. Knowing this, I left a note to each of the 7 neighbors (on that road) mail boxes 3 days prior to the house arrival. The note said that we'll be getting the home delivered and that "the road in front of our location might be impassable for a short time, that I'm sorry for any inconvienience".

    The morning of the delivery, I escorting the home trucks show up to the site only to be told by my excavator that the police had been there, they told him that they got a complaint from a neighbor that we'd be closing the road due to my letter. A month prior I called the town clerk and told her that we'd be moving the home there on the day, she asked me if she needed to let the police know, I said "I don't think so, I don't think there will be any problems". I also asked her for the road dept boss to ask that the low over hanging tree limbs be trimmed, I told him of when the home was being delivered too.

    So, once we got to the site the cop shows up soon afterward and tells me that they had a complaint. He saw the first truck was having difficulty backing into the property, due to the curve and narrow width of the road.
    He said that the police should've been notified and that we should've closed the road with flagmen. I told him that we did alert the town, notified the neighbors and didn't expect to close the road, if anything just a few minute delay while the trucks backed in. Cop said they called the town and was told that "they were aware of a project going on", that he'd talk to the chief about it and that I might get a ticket in the mail. He sugested that we get someone to flag the corners, so I flagged the far off corner, the other corner anyone could see the house sitting on the trailer in the road and could figure out that they'd have to go to the next street to get thru.

    It took +/_ 90 minutes, We didn't expect it to take that long but it did.
    I did get a ticket in the mail. It is a *criminal* charge that I must appear for. The fine could be up to $500 & 30 days in jail! NJS 2C 33-7

    I'm so angry, I know the cop was doing his job, but this all stems from harrassment by the neighbors, as I told him and he could figure out himself. but still I got the ticket. I wouldn't mind a $100 traffic obstruction, but a criminal charge?

    I'm going to fight it, pro-se. I plan on subpenaing the town clerk (as it turns out was on the job one month when I called her). I feel she should have told me to call the police if she didn't want to do it herself or didn't know what she was doing.

    PS- I wasn't driving or owned the vehicles, I don't own the house or the property.

    Would appreciate your thoughts...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    This is the statute.
    Quote Quoting 2C:33-7. Obstructing highways and other public passages
    a. A person, who, having no legal privilege to do so, purposely or recklessly obstructs any highway or other public passage whether alone or with others, commits a petty disorderly persons offense. "Obstructs" means renders impassable without unreasonable inconvenience or hazard. No person shall be deemed guilty of recklessly obstructing in violation of this subsection solely because of a gathering of persons to hear him speak or otherwise communicate, or solely because of being a member of such a gathering.

    b. A person in a gathering commits a petty disorderly persons offense if he refuses to obey a reasonable official request or order to move:
    (1) To prevent obstruction of a highway or other public passage; or

    (2) To maintain public safety by dispersing those gathered in dangerous proximity to a fire or other hazard.
    An order to move, addressed to a person whose speech or other lawful behavior attracts an obstructing audience, shall not be deemed reasonable if the obstruction can be readily remedied by police control of the size or location of the gathering.
    I would suggest not proceeding pro se. If it were me I would get help from a lawyer, with the goal of having my lawyer try to get this dismissed without my having to go to court.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,126

    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    I agree with Aaron. While I believe that you didn't expect it to take 90 minutes, I'm not sure why you expected 2 large trucks with large loads to be able to back in that quickly. I would have expected it to take much longer than 90 minutes. Those trucks don't move forward that quickly, let also backward. You also didn't get the police involved, which you should have. There were a lot of things wrong with the way you did business based on the information that you posted.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    Quote Quoting moburkes
    View Post
    I agree with Aaron. While I believe that you didn't expect it to take 90 minutes, I'm not sure why you expected 2 large trucks with large loads to be able to back in that quickly. I would have expected it to take much longer than 90 minutes. Those trucks don't move forward that quickly, let also backward. You also didn't get the police involved, which you should have. There were a lot of things wrong with the way you did business based on the information that you posted.

    Good luck.

    Do not mistake modular home delivery with whole house movers, it is common to see 12'-13' wide modular home sections driven down the highway at 70+ mph, by no means slow moving vehicles. These trucks are driven by guys who do this all day, every day, not novices.

    The problem lies with the excavator, he should've had the driveway wider & flatter the week before the home delivery. He didn't get to it, then figured that he'd be on the job that day with his machine in case the trucks couldn't get it all the way in and he needed to move the house sections with the machine. While this was my first modular home, it was not his as he told me. He is a proffessional and expects to be paid as such.

    The lot size is an acre and a half, all they had to do was back the first one in and nose in the second one, just get them off the road. It should've been done in fifteen minutes.

    I notified the township a month before & the neighbors 3 days before, it's not like I was doing anything in secret, let alone as a criminal. Its not like someone was gonna come down the road and not see them in the road and crash into them, each section is 13'X52' + the tractor all with amber beacons blazing & wide load signs & flags.

    "There were a lot of things wrong with the way you did business based on the information that you posted" I would think a reasonable person would think calling the township clerk would put everything needed in motion. This is a very small rural township with a 5 person part time police force, not NYC.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Ohio
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    1,126

    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    I've seen only 2 whole houses moved in my life, but many modular homes being moved. However, even 15 minutes is different from a "few" minutes. When you're doing something like this you plan for the worst, and hope for the best. You hoped for the best, and didn't get it.

    I would have gotten a clue when the town clerk asked if she needed to let the police know.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6

    Talking Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    *Update* The neighbor who complained just happened to live two doors down and is a town official. So she had the info that we were moving the house for 3+ days before it came. You would think that a town official who was soooo concerned about the impending road closure would've acted preemptively, maybe got a hold of me to advise me before, or even asked the police to inform me in enough time before the dastardly deed was done.

    I asked my attorney about it today, I wish that I could fill you in on everything he said, I can't with this being a public furom. It's such a small town that he knew what happened & who was involved before I even called him. Funny.

    This same town official shares the office with the uninformed town clerk that I notified a month before, Can you smell the stench from where you sit???

    My attorney said to go pro se, that they should lower it to at least a simple traffic obstruction & drop the criminal charge. He would charge $700 and the highest fine would be $500. I will subpoena everyone involved, When it's all said & done I'll even go to the township meetings and bring the whole mess up there as an ethics issue and raise some hell there.


    "I would have gotten a clue when the town clerk asked if she needed to let the police know." - Hind sight is always 20/20. I didn't think that I had to notify the dog catcher either once I notified the clerk, maybe I should've...I'll probably get a nasty letter from him too. The *paid*official township clerk should be expected to be able to perform her job, that would've been to advise both me & the police dept in a proper & timely fashion. I'm on record as the builder, they had my phone number.

    I would think the judge and any other reasonable person would see thru all this for what it is, harassment by this neighbor/ town official. I would even think the local paper would love this story, we'll see what happens once I dig a little further...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Michigan
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    28,906

    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    Talk to your lawyer about the strategy of issuing subpoenas to "everyone involved". In these parts, that's a pretty good way to ensure that a deal is not offered.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    Talked to the chief of police today, he said "The town clerk is new, and she should've been the one to put the two of us in touch". She had admitted to him my phone call to her.

    I plan to subpoena the town clerk, to aknowledge my months notice phone call.

    The chief to repeat what he told me on the phone today, that it was the clerks duty to foward the info to the police dept.

    If the town officials name is in the police report as the initial caller to complain (even though the cop signed the ticket) I will have her acknowledge her prior knowledge as well and have it show that she has ulterior motives and was using the police and her position in the town as a tool for harrassing me.

    I will question the signing officer as he should be there anyway as to who the neighbor was, as he told us the neighbor called after they got my letter of notice three days prior.

    Heres a question, how about a change of venue?

    At this point, if all my info comes around on paper, I'll move for dismissal or try it, screw their deals

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Michigan
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    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    Again, talk to your lawyer about the strategy of issuing subpoenas to "everyone involved". In these parts, that's a pretty good way to ensure that a deal is not offered.

    Don't expect to be able to change venue.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Criminal Obstructing Traffic Ticket in New Jersey

    Here is the update;

    At my first appearance to plea & to tell them weather or not I will have an attorney, the judge seemed more than decent. He even told everyone who he called for attendance who had their trial scheduled that day "to go down and talk with the prosecutor, that he was in an especially generous mood." I took that as a good sign. When he called my name, I told him not guilty & no lawyer, he took my plea and told me that would be all till the trial date. I asked him if I could go and speak with the prosecutor now, he said that he wouldn't have the info on the case today, so no.

    Seeing how things seemed pretty reasonable as far as the judge went & his comment about the prosecutor I decided to not subpoena anyone and just keep my story short and sweet to the prosecutor beforehand and leave out all the cloak and dagger stuff about the neighbors.

    The prosecutor asked me what the charges were about, I told him that we were having our home delivered and that the first truck got stuck and the second trucks driver was helping the first driver when the officer came by to see the half of the house parked in the street. I told him at that point I didn't own the house yet till it was safely on the property and money exchanged hands and that the drivers did not work for me or would they listen to me even if I asked them to do anything different. He then asked me to step outside the room while he talked to the cop & the chief. After he waived me back in he told me that they would dismiss the case & that the cop and the chief really when to bat for me and that I should thank them. I thanked them.

    I was told to take this paper upstairs into the courtroom and present it when I'm called. When I was called the court clerk was astonished to see a 2-c complaint dismissed and handed it to the judge to look at. The judge told me to have a seat that he would have to speak to the prosecutor to see what the story was. He asked that I be patient that they only have one prosecutor and he was busy downstairs meeting with defendants & attorneys. When the prosecutor did come back up and they started the court up again the judge asked what happened with me. The prosecutor told the judge that there was a miscommunication and that I tried to do the right thing by notifying the town & neighbors with respect to the house possibly blocking the road. The judge laughed and turned to me and asked how it all went, I told him that it went terrible... He then asked the prosecutor if that was the first time that he ever had to deal with a house obstructing traffic.

    So it was dismissed but I still have to pay costs of $33 and kill two mornings of my life.

    I want to thank everyone who shared their insights with me, THANKS!

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