New Jersey Traffic Attorney: New Ruling Makes Failure to Wear a Seat Belt a Crime in New Jersey
Until recently, drivers in New Jersey who have been cited for not wearing their seat belt could expect little more than a ticket and a minimal fine. But on September 18, 2014, a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling has made those who fail to wear a seatbelt or require minor passengers to wear their seatbelt subject to possible criminal charges and even jail time of up to ten years.
The court officially added the New Jersey seat belt law to an already existing statute that makes it a crime to knowingly violate any law that is intended to protect public health and safety through reckless conduct that causes injury to others. The ruling stemmed from a case in Sussex County in which an 18-year old driver lost control of her car and struck a guardrail, seriously injuring her and her 16-year old passenger. Her passenger died at the hospital the following day. Neither girl was wearing a seatbelt.
Attorneys for the defendant argued that the state’s seat belt law did not fit into the category of violations warranting criminal prosecution. The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed, stating that the law was clearly intended to protect public health and safety. Further arguments that the defendant was not notified of the seriousness of allowing a passenger to ride without a seat belt were also rejected. The court said that one would be hard-pressed to find a more publicized law, and recalled a 1998 ruling in which seat belts were said to be “the most significant source of automobile crash protection for automobile occupants”.
The addition of the seat belt law to the existing statute may possibly open to door to the extension of other laws meant to promote public safety, such as driving without headlights or without working brake lights.
New Jersey Criminal and Traffic Court Lawyers at The Law Offices of Michele Finizio Ardently Defend Individuals Charged with Traffic Offenses
If you have been in an accident, and you or your passenger were not wearing a seat belt, you may possibly be charged with a crime. The New Jersey criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio are committed to staying up-to-the-minute on new traffic laws affecting New Jersey drivers, and will take the time to explain the law and criminal procedures to clients. Our highly skilled traffic and municipal court lawyers will aggressively fight the charges against you and work to protect your rights.
Our office is conveniently located in Moorestown, New Jersey and represents clients throughout Southern New Jersey, including those in Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Salem County, Gloucester County, Ocean County and Mercer County. Call 856-242-7300 today to schedule your free consultation or submit an online contact form.