NJ offers not to report speeding violation?

A friend in New Jersey reports that she was recently nabbed for speeding. The ticket she received gives three basic options: The first is to dispute the matter in traffic court, but she has little interest in this: she was definitely speeding and doesn’t care to take the necessary time off from work. The second is to pay approximately $160, and suffer the usual fate of seeing her insurance premium jacked up for 2-3 years.

But wait - there’s a third possibility. She reports that NJ offers not to report the incident, provided you remit something like $450.

This is the first I’ve ever heard of such a plan. Does anyone closer to NJ know about this? Do other states offer this?

And (though I guess this is IMHO territory) does anyone agree that this has a whiff of fraud about it? What do the insurance companies have to say about this?

I’m in New Jersey. Never heard of such a thing. [Of course, there are probably a lot of things I’ve never heard of that exist nonetheless.] Did she get this offer in writing? Otherwise it sounds a whole lot like a bribe to me. What I have heard of is people pleading guilty to a lesser violation that does not carry insurance points but does carry a huge fine. Could that be what’s going on? Who made this offer? The police officer or the prosecutor?

As I understand it, the offer is printed on the ticket.

This may be structured as you suggest: “Plead guilty to a minor charge with a huge fine, or to a more serious charge with a moderate fine (but which includes a report to your insurance company).” Still sounds sleazy to me.

Agreed. But then, you may be assuming that the purpose of enforcing the speed limit is safety. It’s not. The purpose is revenue generation for the local municipality. They’d rather have the money themselves than for the insurance company.

It would have to be some sort of workaround like that. New Jersey has been a member of the Drivers License Compact since 1983. According to the Compact, members are required to report convictions of traffic-related offenses.


Right. But they only have to report convictions, not arrests or accusations. Until the driver pleads or is found guilty, there is no conviction to report. It is not unknown for people accused of serious offenses, like DWI, to bargain down to, say, careless driving with a huge fine and/or loss of license, but no DWI record or insurance points.

Understood, which is why I said it had to be a workaround. The catch is that you usually must plead to something. And most offenses get you points. In Michigan, Careless Driving gets you three points Michigan Legislature - Section 257.320a

Sometimes, you can plead to an offense that carries no points, depending on the jurisdiction; other times you can work out something a little more Kafka-esque. For instance, again in Michigan, you used to be able to plead no contest. If you had a clean record, the judge would take the case under advisement. If you stayed clean for some agreed period of time, the judge would dismiss the case. This ran into a few problems, though:

  1. The authorities wanted to collect the fines, despite the ultimate dismissal of the case (juridical hook).
  2. Insurance companies complained a whole bunch (motivation).
  3. You had to demand a trial, show up at the hearing, and negotiate the deal with the prosecutor, which proved inconvenient to out of state drivers.

They no longer allow this.

I would expect, as the OP has suggested that insurance companies would complain very loudly about such a deal. I would also expect that other compact members would call this a bad faith attempt to circumvent the compact.

I agree. But municipalities everywhere have always felt the need to maintain that this is done in the name of safety. Otherwise, why not fine people for, say, dirty tires, or out-of-state license plates - you could probably raise some good money that way.

And the scheme of reporting speeding violations to the insurance companies (which then increase premiums) is presumably based on data that shows that speeding correlates with increase risk, which implies that the speeder’s fair share of costs is larger. No doubt this required the approval of the NJ insurance commissioner, who presumably would not have allowed such increases unless the correlation were proved.

So it seems quite dubious for NJ to say, in effect: “The normal consequence of speeding is a $160 fine and a report to your insurance company. However if and when you fork over an extra $300, we will consider your offense to be smaller (despite the much larger fine) and will not report it, so you will not have to pay an extra share of the costs (as experience has shown you probably should).”

If they could fine people for dirty tires, they would. You gotta be real careful 'round these parts towards the end of the month, if you get my drift (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). I know of a town that has a lot of condo developments. The cops drive through the parking lots on the last day of the month looking for cars whose inspection sticker is expiring and will be no good the following day, then lie in wait for that vehicle to exit the complex next morning. Word is that if you’re darkly complexioned, you better be awful nice to the kind officer, too, but you may get your car searched anyway. With your uncoerced consent, of course.

I do love many things about NJ, but this is the state that gave the governor half a mil as a going-away present when he resigned, allegedly because he was gay but in actuality because a lot of dirt was about to slide out from under the rug about completely un-sexual-orientation issues.

While not an expert on motor vehicle laws, I know of nothing which would stop a municipality from issuing fines for dirty tires, except outrage of the voting public and ridicule by surrounding towns. Fining for out-of-state plates, on the other hand, would violate the US Constitution, which reserves regulation of interstate commerce to the federal government, and requires each state to give full faith and credit to the public acts of another state.

As a slight side note… who is it in a municipality who has the authority to establish fining offenses?? I would assume that it’s not the local law enforcement, but the local council or equivalent… who are possibly even more vulnerable to getting voted out. Just wanted to confirm this.