For motorists to operate their vehicles safely, they must leave an appropriate amount of space behind the vehicles in front of them. Maintaining an appropriate following distance not only is prudent for the safety of drivers and their passengers, but it also is required by the law in New Jersey. Thus, people who follow other vehicles too closely may be cited for tailgating. A citation does not automatically result in a finding of guilt, however, and anyone cited for tailgating should speak with a seasoned attorney about their options for fighting the citation. Middlesex County traffic ticket lawyer Leon Matchin is adept at helping people seek a reduction or dismissal of traffic violation charges, and he can zealously advocate on your behalf. Mr. Matchin regularly assists people facing traffic citations in Middlesex, Monmouth, and Mercer Counties.What Constitutes Tailgating Under New Jersey Law
The New Jersey statute defining safe following distances, N.J.S.A. 39:4-89, states that a driver may not follow any other vehicle more closely than is prudent and reasonable. In determining what is prudent and reasonable, a driver must consider the speed of the vehicle that he or she is following, the speed of traffic in general, and the condition of the road.
Since the terms “reasonable” and “prudent” are not defined by the statute, there is no precise measurement for what constitutes a safe following distance. Instead, whether a driver violates the following distance law will depend on several factors, including the weather and visibility. In any event, a driver is expected to leave sufficient space to allow him or her to stop without striking the vehicle that he or she is following.
The law also states that a person driving a motor truck on a highway that is not located in a residential or business district cannot follow another motor truck within 100 feet. Motor trucks are not prohibited from passing or overtaking each other, however.
A person found guilty of tailgating may be fined between $50 and $200 and will need to pay court costs. The person may be sentenced to up to 15 days of imprisonment as well. It is within the court’s discretion to decide whether to fine the person or sentence him or her to jail time, or to impose both penalties. Additionally, a citation for tailgating may result in points being added to a driver’s license and increased insurance rates.Defending Against a Tailgating Charge
In many cases in which a driver is cited for tailgating, the citation follows a rear-end collision, and the police officer investigating the accident will most likely rely on circumstantial evidence in issuing the citation. Thus, a person charged with tailgating may be able to argue that there is insufficient evidence to find him or her guilty of tailgating and that an intervening cause brought about the accident. For example, if a driver’s attorney can produce evidence that the vehicle that he or she is accused of tailgating was weaving in and out of traffic or abruptly entered the lane in front of the driver, the driver may be able to obtain a dismissal. In some cases in which there are insufficient grounds for the charges to be dismissed, an attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecution on behalf of the driver to obtain a reduced charge that imposes fewer penalties and fewer points.Meet with a Trusted Middlesex County Lawyer Following a Citation
A citation for tailgating can affect your driving record and insurance rates, and it can result in significant financial penalties as well. If you received a traffic ticket for tailgating, Attorney Leon Matchin can assess the circumstances surrounding your citation and advise you on your options for seeking a favorable result. Mr. Matchin frequently assists drivers fighting traffic tickets in Middlesex County, as well as in Monmouth and Mercer Counties. You can reach Mr. Matchin at (732) 887-2479 or through the form online to set up a free and confidential consultation.