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New Jersey New Resident Guide

Welcome to New Jersey! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in New Jersey. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • A person must apply within 60 days of establishing residence, or before your current license expires, to transfer a non-commercial license from another state. Drivers under age 18 cannot transfer a license but must complete New Jersey's Graduated Driver License (GDL) program requirements. A person must apply within 30 days of establishing residence to transfer a commercial driver's license from another state.
  • Every vehicle driven primarily in New Jersey, whether owned by a resident or non-resident, is required to be registered.
  • You must register your vehicles within 60 days or before your out-of-state registration expires (whichever is first).
  • Report a new address within one week after your move.


Graduated Licensing Program



Student Learner's Permit

Requirements

  • Must be 16;
  • Must have completed driver education;
  • Must pass knowledge test and vision test;
  • Must show proof of enrollment in driver training.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May complete driver training, then return to MVC office to have permit validated prior to any practice driving.
  • May not drive between 11 PM and 5 AM.
  • Must be accompanied by an adult supervising driver who is at least 21 years of age and who possesses a valid New Jersey driver license and has a minimum of three years driving experience.
  • Parent(s), guardian(s) or dependent(s) are allowed as passengers. A dependent is a permit or probationary driver's child, not siblings.
  • Only one additional passenger is allowed unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • May not use any handheld or hands free interactive, wireless communication device.
  • Seat belts must be worn at all times.

Intermediate / Probationary License

Requirements

  • Must be 17;
  • Must have held validated permit for 6 months;
  • Must pass road test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Must display state-provided removable, transferable, highly visible, reflective decals indicating that the driver of the vehicle may be the holder of an intermediate license.
  • May not drive unsupervised between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • May not use any handheld or hands free interactive, wireless communication device.
  • Seat belts must be worn at all times.
  • Only one additional passenger is allowed unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Basic Driver License

Requirements

  • Must be 18 years old;
  • Must hold intermediate license at least 1 year;
  • Must return to MVC to obtain basic license.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



8 Point Violations

  • Leaving the scene of an accident in which personal injury has occurred

5 Point Violations

  • Failure to pass to right of vehicle proceeding in opposite direction
  • Tailgating
  • Reckless driving
  • Exceeding maximum speed 30 mph or more over limit
  • Improper passing of school bus
  • Racing on highway

4 Point Violations

  • Improper passing on New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway
  • Improper passing on right or off roadway
  • Improper passing in no passing zone
  • Driving in an unsafe manner (points only for third or subsequent offense within five years of most recent 39:4-97.2 conviction)
  • Exceeding maximum speed 15-29 mph over limit
  • Improper passing of frozen dessert truck

3 Point Violations

  • Operating constructor vehicle in excess of 45 mph
  • Improper turn at traffic light
  • Improper right or left turn
  • Improper turn from approved turning course
  • Improper u-turn

2 Point Violations

  • Moving against traffic on New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway
  • Unlawful use of median strip on New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway
  • Operating motorized bicycle on a restricted highway
  • More than one person on a motorized bicycle
  • Failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk
  • Failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk; passing a vehicle yielding to pedestrian in crosswalk
  • Driving through safety zone
  • Improper action or omission on grades and curves
  • Failure to observe direction of officer
  • Failure to stop vehicle before crossing sidewalk
  • Failure to yield to pedestrians or vehicles while entering or leaving highway
  • Driving on public or private property to avoid a traffic sign or signal
  • Operating a motor vehicle on a sidewalk
  • Failure to obey direction of officer
  • Failure to observe traffic signals* *No points assessed for red light camera violation
  • Failure to keep right
  • Improper operating of vehicle on divided highway or divider
  • Failure to keep right at intersection
  • Wrong way on a one-way street
  • Failure to yield to overtaking vehicle
  • Failure to observe traffic lanes
  • Failure to yield at intersection
  • Failure to use proper entrances to limited access highways
  • Failure to yield to emergency vehicles
  • Careless driving
  • Slow speed blocking traffic
  • Exceeding maximum speed 1-14 mph over limit
  • Failure to stop for traffic light
  • Failure to stop at flashing red signal
  • Failure to stop for police whistle
  • Failure to give proper signal.
  • Improper backing or turning in street
  • Improper crossing of railroad grade crossing
  • Improper crossing of bridge
  • Improper crossing of railroad grade crossing by certain vehicles
  • Leaving the scene of an accident - no personal injury
  • Failure to observe stop or yield signs
  • Moving violation committed out-of-state

How Long Points Remain on Record

Although MVC keeps a permanent record of all the points you've earned, it is possible to earn point deductions by remaining violation and suspension-free for one year or by taking qualified driving courses approved by MVC.

  • One year with no violations or suspensions: -3 points
  • Defensive driving program (may be used once every 5 years): -2 points
  • Driver Improvement program (may be used once every 2 years): -3 points
  • Probationary driver program: -3 points

If you get six or more points within three years on your current driving record, you will be assessed a surcharge of $150 plus $25 for each additional point.

If you get 12 or more points on your current driving record, your license will be suspended. You will receive a notice of scheduled suspension by mail. You may be able to take a Driver Improvement Program in lieu of suspension.

If you get 12 or more points on your current driving record, your license will be suspended. You will receive a notice of scheduled suspension by mail. You may be able to take a Driver Improvement Program in lieu of suspension.



Insurance Requirements



  • Auto insurance is mandatory in New Jersey, but the type and cost of that coverage can vary significantly.
  • All vehicles registered in New Jersey must be covered by an automobile liability insurance policy that insures against loss resulting from liability for bodily injury, death, and property damage where coverage amounts shall be at least: (1) $15,000 for injury or death of 1 person in any 1 accident; (2) $30,000 on account of injury to or death of more than 1 person in any 1 accident; and (3) $5,000 from property damage in any 1 accident.
  • A person with an automobile registered in New Jersey may choose a basic automobile insurance policy, as an alternative to the mandatory coverage, that provides the following coverage: (1) personal injury protection coverage that includes the payment of medical expense benefits for reasonable and necessary treatment of bodily injury in an amount not to exceed $15,000 per person per accident, except that, medical expense benefits shall be paid in an amount not to exceed $250,000 for all medically necessary treatment of permanent or significant brain injury, spinal cord injury or disfigurement, or for medically necessary treatment of other permanent or significant injuries rendered at a trauma center or acute care hospital; (2) $5,000 for property damage in any 1 accident, and (3) the option of $10,000 for injury to or death of 1 or more persons in any 1 accident.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or when following another vehicle.

You must use your headlights:

  • Between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise.
  • When visibility is 500 feet or less.
  • When using windshield wipers (during rain, snow and ice).
  • When encountering fog, mist, smoke or other factors that reduce visibility.

In 1999, the Superior Court of New Jersey concluded that flashing headlights to warn approaching drivers about a speed trap is not a violation of NJ Rev Stat 39:3-60 because the statute was never intended to prohibit a motorist from warning oncoming motorists that a speed trap lies ahead.



Implied Consent Laws



Criminal

  • First offense- Not less than $300 or more than $500.
  • Second offense - Not less than $500 or more than $1,000.
  • Third or subsequent offense - $1,000.
  • On school property/through school crossing:
  • First offense - Not less than $600 or more than $1,000.
  • Second offense - Not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000.
  • Third or subsequent offense - $2,000.

Administrative

  • Revocation
    • First Refusal -Not less than 7 months or more than 1 year.
    • Second refusal - 2 years.
    • Subsequent refusal -10 years.


DUI Penalties



First Offense

BAC between .08 - .10

  • 12 hours - 30 days imprisonment
  • $250 - $400 fine
  • 3 months license revocation
  • Ignition interlock may be required for 6 months - 1 year after license reinstatement

BAC .10 or more

  • 12 hours - 30 days imprisonment
  • $300 - $500 fine
  • 7 months - 1 year license revocation
  • If BAC .15 or higher, ignition interlock is mandatory for 6 months - 1 year after license reinstatement

School property/crossing

  • Up to 60 days imprisonment
  • $500 - $800 fine
  • 1 year - 2 years license revocation

Second Offense (within 10 years)

Any BAC

  • 48 hours - 90 days imprisonment
  • $500 - $1,000 fine
  • 30 days community service
  • 2 years license revocation
  • At least 1 year mandatory ignition interlock after license reinstatement

School property/crossing

  • 96 hours - 180 days imprisonment
  • $1,000 - $2,000 fine
  • 4 years license revocation

Third or Subsequent Offense (within 10 years of a 1st offense)

Any BAC

  • 90 days - 180 days imprisonment
  • Not less than $1,000 fine
  • 10 years license revocation
  • At least 1 year mandatory ignition interlock after license reinstatement

School property/crossing

  • 90 days - 180 days imprisonment
  • Not less than $2,000 fine
  • 20 years license revocation

Other

Child endangerment

  • In addition to any other sanctions for a drunk-driving offense, a person who commits such an offense while transporting a passenger 17 is guilty of a "disorderly persons offense". Additionally, such person shall be ordered to perform not more than 5 days of community service, and shall have his license suspended for not more than 6 months.

Alcohol education

  • Required for offenders under 21

Alcohol treatment

  • Court shall order an offender to serve time in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center


Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $85 fine.
  • Auto enforcement: $85 fine, no points.


Construction Zone Penalties



All moving vehicle violations are subject to two times the original fine, whether or not workers are present.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • An operator of a motor vehicle on a highway is prohibited from interrupting a funeral procession, and shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which is being driven in a funeral procession that displays amber warning lights and bears a flag or other insignia designating it as part of the funeral procession.
  • Funeral processions must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles.
  • If any procession takes longer than five minutes to pass a given point, it must be interrupted every five minutes for waiting traffic.
  • Authorized emergency vehicles, U.S. mail vehicles, and physicians' vehicles have the right-of-way through a procession.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is on the opposite side of a divided highway.
  • You must stop your vehicle at least 25 feet from the school bus.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a $100 - $750 fine.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • A person who successfully completes a road test for a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement when operating a motorcycle or motorized scooter with an engine displacement of less than 231 cubic centimeters shall be issued a motorcycle license or endorsement restricting the person's operation of such vehicles to any motorcycle with an engine displacement of 500 cubic centimeters or less. A person who successfully completes a road test for a motorcycle license or motorcycle endorsement when operating a motorcycle with an engine displacement of 231 or more cubic centimeters, or successfully completes an approved motorcycle safety education course, shall be issued a motorcycle license or endorsement without any restriction as to engine displacement.
  • The director of the MVC may waive the road test portion of the examinations required for a motorcycle license or endorsement if the applicant has successfully completed a motorcycle safety education course.
  • All applicants for a motorcycle license who have never previously held such license shall be on probation for a period of 2 years following the issuance of their initial license.
  • A motorized bicycle license may be issued to any person 15 years of age or older upon proof of identity, date of birth, and passage of a driving examination.

Protective Gear

  • A motorcycle operator and passenger must wear goggles or a face shield, unless the motorcycle is equipped with a wind screen meeting specifications established by the director, and a securely fitted helmet that is equipped with either a neck or chin strap.

Headlights

  • Daytime use of headlight not required.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Motorcycles traveling side-by-side in a single lane is not addressed in state law.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve where the driver's view along the highway is obstructed within 500 feet.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



65 mph on selected portions of State eligible public highways as determined by the State Commissioner of Transportation in consultation with the State Attorney general, the N.J. Highway Authority and the N.J. Transportation Authority.

  • An "eligible public highway" is a "public highway" which includes "public roads, streets, expressways, freeways, parkways, motorways and boulevards, including bridges, tunnels, overpasses, underpasses, interchanges..." Public highways, under the jurisdiction of counties or municipalities, are not eligible for the 65 mph speed limit.
  • 50 mph in all other locations except as otherwise provided;
  • 35 mph in suburban business or residential district;
  • 25 mph in a (non-suburban) business or residential district;
  • 25 mph when passing through a school zone during recess, while children are visible from the highway or when children are either going to or leaving a school during opening and closing hours.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 7 years and younger who are more than 80 pounds, and occupants 8 or older, must wear safety belts.
  • Police may not stop vehicles solely for a belt law violation if the occupant not wearing a safety belt is in the rear seat. Police may stop vehicles for all other belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $20.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger who are less than 80 pounds must be in a child seat, may not use an adult safety belt, and must be in the rear seat if available.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle;
    • Tow truck;
    • Highway maintenance vehicle.
  • You must do the following:
    • Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the vehicle;
    • If changing lanes would be impossible, illegal, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which must be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

Following

  • Do not follow any emergency vehicle closer than 300 feet, or drive or park within 200 feet of where the emergency vehicle has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more, you must report the accident immediately to the nearest police department. If the driver is unable to make the report, any other occupant of the vehicle who is able to must do so.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Show driver's license and registration certificate upon request.
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Report crash:
    • If none of the other people involved in the accident are in a condition to receive the information you are required to give them, and no police officer is present, you must report the crash to the nearest police department as soon as you have provided assistance to any injured person.
    • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more, you must report the accident in writing within 10 days after the accident, unless a police officer investigated the accident.
    • If the driver is physically incapable of making an immediate or a written report of the crash, any other occupant of the vehicle who is capable of making a report must do so.
  • Unattended vehicle or property:
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances.
    • If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice on the vehicle providing the name and address of the driver and owner, and the registration number of the vehicle.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested. If you are unable to do so, notify the nearest police department and the property owner once they can be identified and located.


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