Municipal Court and DWI

Police car with LightsNew Jersey Municipal Courts

New Jersey’s municipal court system is intended to handle three types of matters:
(a) Motor vehicle matters,
(b) Lesser criminal charges, and
(c) Violation(s) of municipal ordinances.

In New Jersey most towns have their own municipal court, although the recent trend has been to encourage towns to combine their courts as a more efficient way of handling these matters.

Charges brought against an individual may involve a simple fine or more serious penalties such as substantial fines and/or loss of one’s driving privileges.

Far too often people who get a municipal summons or a traffic ticket plead guilty, thinking they have no other options. It is important that individuals charged with offenses returnable in Municipal Court review these charges with an attorney to determine if there are possible defenses to the charge, and to understand the penalties if one is found to be guilty. A guilty plea or a guilty finding can have a snowball effect, leading to a license suspension for accumulated points, and increased insurance rates.

Traffic Violations

Operating a motor vehicle in the State of New Jersey has been determined to be a privilege, and not a right. While many tickets may only require the payment of a fine, the cumulative points may result in a suspension of your driving privileges and/or an increase in your car insurance rate.
Being found guilty of a motor vehicle violation can result in points being included on your driving abstract and reported to your insurance company. The more serious the violation, the greater number of points assessed against your license.

Gale & Laughlin, LLP represents clients in the defense of traffic violations, and seeks to reduce the number of points associated with your charged offense:

• Reckless Driving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 points
• Careless Driving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 points
• Tailgating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5 points
• Speeding up to 14 MPH above limit . . . . . . .  2 points
• Speeding 15-29 MPH above limit . . . . . . . . .  4 points
• Speeding 30 MPH or more above limit . . . . . 5 points
• Failure to Obey Traffic Signal . . . . . . . . . . .  2 points
• Improper U-Turn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3 points
• Improper Passing of School Bus . . . . . . . . .  5 points
• Wrong Way on One-Way Street . . . . . . . . .   2 points
• Failure to Yield at Intersection . . . . . . . . . .   2 points


I hired Jordan Gale for a recent Municipal Court Matter. He was a wonderful attorney.  He was detailed, kind and extremely helpful. I could not imagine going to any other firm.  I highly recommend Gale & Laughlin – Corey A.


Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
The penalties for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor or drugs are severe. The New Jersey Legislature has established a harsh punishment, in an effort to deter individuals from committing this offense. A person who operates or allows a person to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of liqueur or drugs is subject to the following penalties:

A person whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher but less than .10% may be subject to fines, attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, imprisonment, and a three (3) month loss of license.

A person whose blood alcohol is 0.10% or higher may be subject to fines, attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, imprisonment, and a seven (7) month to one (1) year loss of license. In addition, if the blood alcohol reading was greater than 0.15%, it is mandatory that the offender be required to install an interlock device in his/her vehicle for a period of six (6) months to one (1) year after his/her driver’s license has been restored.

A second violation may result in increased fines, community service, imprisonment, attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, a two (2) year loss of license and 30 days of community service. In addition, it is mandatory that the offender be required to install an interlock device in his/her vehicle for a period of one (1) to three (3) years after his/her driver’s license has been restored.


A third violation may result in a fine of $1,000.00, a surcharge of $1,500.00 per year for three years, mandatory attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, and a ten (10) year loss of license. In addition to these penalties, a third violation will result in mandatory imprisonment of up to 180 days, and the installation of the interlock device for a period of 1 to 3 years following restoration.

A listing of the driving under the influence penalties can be found at the State of New Jersey, Motor Vehicle Commission website.

Let us review the specifics of your matter to identify and pursue any available defense.

Drug Possession

Clients found in possession of small amounts of a controlled, dangerous substance may have their matter heard in the local municipal court. In some instances, the discovery of these drugs may be the result of a traffic stop or the appearance of an individual being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance. In each instance there are certain procedures which the police must follow in order to prove an individual’s guilt. Let us review the specific facts of your matter to determine if these requirements have been met.

Effective Legal Counsel

Don’t face fines, suspensions, court costs or possible jail time without a knowledgeable attorney at your side. For decades our firm has been assisting clients with municipal court matters in communities throughout Monmouth County, Middlesex County and Ocean County.

All consultations for Municipal Court Cases are FREE, so contact us today.

This information is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice without consulting with a licensed attorney. This is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. The law is subject to frequent changes and varies from one jurisdiction to another. (c) 2016.