Can You Go to Jail for Traffic Violations in New Jersey?

Yes, some traffic offenses can carry a sentence that includes time in jail. Typically, something like a rolling stop or basic speeding ticket doesn’t land you in a situation to worry about jail time—consequences for these types of traffic offenses tend to be administrative and financial in nature. You might end up with a fine or lose your license privileges if you’ve had numerous offenses within a certain period of time.

However, traffic offenses such as DWI or leaving the scene of an accident can result in more serious consequences, including jail time, in New Jersey.

What Are Some Common Traffic Offenses in New Jersey and Their Consequences?

Speeding is one of the most common traffic offenses people are cited for. The consequences depend on how fast you are traveling, the posted speed limit where you are traveling, and your history of violations. The fine for exceeding the speed limit by 1 to 9 miles per hour is $86. Exceeding the posted speed limit by 10 to 14 miles per hour results in a $96 fine, and the fine for exceeding the speed limit by 15 to 19 miles per hour is $106.

Fines are much higher if you hit 20 miles per hour or more above the speed limit. Fines are also higher in safe corridor construction zones or school zones. Individuals with CDLs may face different fines.

You may also have to pay court costs and other fees associated with your case. Speeding violations also typically result in points on your license, making it more likely to lose your license if you have future incidents or pay more for car insurance.

Other common traffic violations that come with various fees and potential points on your license include:

  • Improper passing
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way road
  • Failing to obey traffic signals or signs, such as traffic lights or stop signs
  • Failure to obey the New Jersey Safe Passing Law in yielding to pedestrians when required

What Type of Traffic Offenses Might Lead to Jail Time?

The traffic offenses above won’t land you in jail outside of cases involving extenuating circumstances or additional charges. However, some types of traffic violations can result in jail time, including those discussed below.

Driving Without a License

If you are charged with driving without a license, you can face fines up to $500 and the inability to get a license for 180 days or more following the incident. You may also face jail time up to 60 days.

Not Having Motor Vehicle Insurance

Driving without appropriate motor vehicle coverage is a serious traffic offense in New Jersey. The first offense can result in a fine up to $1,000 and suspension of your license for up to a year. You may also be required to complete community service hours. If you have a second or further offense, the fine is much higher, you can lose driving privileges for up to two years, and you may face up to 14 days in jail.


Driving while intoxicated is a traffic offense in New Jersey. Whether or not you face jail time and the severity of other consequences depends on your blood alcohol content at the time of the charge and how many DWI convictions are on your record.

First offenses can result in fines up to $500, time in jail up to 30 days, and the need to install an ignition interlock device for a certain period of time. You may also need to pay an automobile insurance surcharge and spend time at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. Depending on the severity of your charge, you also lose your driving privileges for a certain period of time.

A second DWI offense results in similar but more severe consequences. Fines can be as much as $1,000, and imprisonment can be up to 90 days. The same is true for third or further offenses—imprisonment can be as much as 180 days. The period of license suspension is also much longer for further convictions—it can be up to eight years for third offenses.

Reckless Driving

If you’re charged with reckless driving, you can face fines of up to $200 for a first offense and $500 for a second offense. You might also face jail time of up to 60 days for a first offense and up to three months for a second offense.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

If you leave the scene of an accident that resulted in an injury or death, you can be charged with a traffic offense that results in up to $1,000 in fines for a first offense and up to $2,000 in fines for a second offense. You can also lose your license for up to a year for a first offense and permanently on any subsequent offenses. Whether or not jail time is part of a sentence depends on the factors of the accident, but it can be up to 180 days in cases involving a first offense.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Help Defend Against Traffic Violation Charges?

Basic traffic offenses don’t typically call for involving an attorney. However, if you’re facing traffic offense charges that might result in jail time, lengthy loss of your license, or other serious consequences, working with a team of former prosecutors on your defense can help you protect your future freedom and rights.

Contact the Bianchi Law Group to find out how we can help by calling 862-210-8570.