Winter is upon us — and for New Jersey residents, that means preparing for cold temperatures and inclement weather. While you might be born and bred in the Garden State, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to the dangerous road conditions that present themselves during this time of year. In order to avoid being given a traffic or speeding ticket during NJ winters, it’s essential that you avoid hazardous behavior. Here are just three tips that your careless driving attorney would recommend you follow this season to prevent accidents and potential legal trouble.
Remove Snow and Ice
You might not realize it, but it’s actually against the law to leave snow and ice on your vehicle while it’s in operation. Even if nothing flies off your vehicle while you’re driving, you can still be ticketed for failing to clear snow and ice off your roof.
As any New Jersey motor vehicle attorney will tell you, ticketed drivers can face fines of $25 to $75 for snow and ice on the roof of their vehicle. And if any dislodged snow or ice causes injury or property damage, the fine can increase to $200 to $1,000, depending on the situation. Before you ever leave home, make good use of your snow brush and clear off your car to avoid financial penalties.
Don’t Idle Too Long
The tradition of warming up your car is strong in colder climates, but New Jersey law doesn’t allow you to engage in this behavior for too long. All New Jersey vehicles are permitted to idle for three minutes — but if you have a gas-powered car, you can’t idle for any longer than that. This applies even in your own driveway! Diesel-powered cars can idle for 15 minutes, provided that the car had been shut off for at least three hours prior and the temperature outside is 25 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Of course, idling laws don’t apply to vehicles stuck in traffic or those being repaired. But if you assumed you could use your automatic starter to warm up your vehicle for an extra 10 minutes in the morning, you might want to rethink that instead of facing the possibility of a $100 fine.
Keep a Safe Distance
There are always going to be speeding NJ drivers out on the roads, regardless of the season. After all, 86% of drivers nationwide believe it’s safe to drive at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on the highway. But any speeding lawyer would caution motorists to watch how fast they’re traveling during the winter, in particular.
NJ drivers have a duty to maintain a safe distance and speed. It’s important to note that inclement weather might not be a valid excuse if an accident occurs, as you can receive a ticket for careless driving if you “drive without due caution and circumspection in a manner so as to endanger or likely to endanger person or property.”
Careless driving is actually a less serious charge than reckless driving, but either charge could be more likely to be brought during winter. Both of these violations can result in the need for a careless driving attorney, as you may face fines, fees, license restrictions or points, and even jail time. Unless you’re eager to hire a careless driving attorney, make sure to avoid tailgating and to travel at a safe speed this winter.
While it’s important to avoid reckless behavior during any time of year, winter can be an especially dangerous time to be out on the road. Be sure to follow these tips and to contact a trusted careless driving attorney if you do find yourself in legal trouble this season.