New Jersey Car Accident Laws Staff Profile Picture
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New Jersey recorded 667 fatal collisions in 2021 — with drunk driving and driver distraction being the leading causes of car accidents and Interstates 295, 95, 78, 80, and 287 being the most common accident sites. In 2022, 705 people died in car accidents, a 15-year high for the state — and a figure that ranked New Jersey as 10th in the highest percentage of increased traffic deaths nationwide. Car accidents, even non-fatal ones, are becoming more common in New Jersey as the number of cars on its roads grows.

New Jersey is a member of Toward Zero Deaths, a national initiative aimed at reducing serious injuries and fatalities on the country’s roadways, and the state government directs annual funding toward a statewide highway safety plan. Alongside this state support and many heightened awareness programs, motorists are enjoined to continue abiding by safe driving guidelines. The following laws and regulations, as well as minimum insurance requirements and standards on personal injury liability, are in place to protect New Jersey car owners, car crash victims, and car accident plaintiffs.

New Jersey Seat Belt Law

Drivers and passengers in New Jersey are required to wear seatbelts. Failure to wear a seatbelt by a driver, front-seat passenger, or child under the age of 18 is a primary offense. A police officer may pull over a vehicle and issue a ticket for failing to comply with the regulation, and offenders may be subject to a fine of $46. 

Meanwhile, sitting unbuckled in the back seat of a car is considered a secondary offense, and the driver will only be ticketed if there is another citable traffic violation. If a driver commits other violations while driving in addition to not having themselves or their passengers wear seatbelts, they may also face criminal charges.

Every year, around 130 unrestrained car drivers and passengers are killed in crashes in New Jersey, with over 1,500 fatalities recorded over the last decade. These figures have prompted the state government to back initiatives like the annual Click It or Ticket campaign, which combines zero-tolerance enforcement of seat belt laws with public education programs. Studies have also shown that buckling up in cars saves lives and increases an occupant's chances of survival by up to 75%.

New Jersey Speeding Laws

New Jersey traffic law establishes specific speed limits for each road, street, freeway, and highway. Speeding is a common contributing factor in fatal crashes and other types of accidents, with 70 of the state's 667 fatal collisions in 2021 attributed to speeding. The following speed limits are mandated by state law for car drivers in various zones:

Speed limit


25 mph

School zones, business districts, or residential districts

35 mph

Suburban business and residential districts

50 mph

Non-posted rural roadways

55 mph 

Certain state highways (as posted) and interstates

65 mph

Certain interstate highways (as posted)

For more information about the speed limits on state roads and highways, click here. The law also directs drivers to always slow down on winding or narrow roads, at traffic lights or railroad crossings, on a hill, in tight or blind turns, where there are pedestrians or potential road hazards, and when the road is slick or wet.

While drivers must not exceed the posted speed limit, they should always strive to keep up with the normal flow of traffic. New Jersey law prohibits blocking traffic by driving too slowly. Car accidents can be caused by slowing down and backing up traffic. 

New Jersey Speeding Penalties

If an automobile driver is convicted of speeding, the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) registers the following points on their license:

  • Surpassing maximum speed 1–14 mph over the limit = 2 points

  • Surpassing maximum speed 15–29 mph over the limit = 4 points

  • Surpassing maximum speed 30 mph or more over the limit = 5 points

According to the MVC, accumulating 12 points or more can result in license suspension. Furthermore, the cost of car insurance may rise based on the number of points a driver has acquired. The cost of a speeding ticket in New Jersey ranges from $85 to $260, depending on how far over the legal speed a driver went. Drivers who exceed the 65 mph limit by 10 miles per hour or more face a double fine.

New Jersey Failure To Yield to Pedestrian Rule

In comparison to the rest of the country, New Jersey has a high number of pedestrian injury crashes and fatalities. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, and drivers are very strictly held accountable for pedestrian safety. Under New Jersey Statute 39:4-3, failure to stop to pedestrians is punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to 25 days behind bars, 15 days of community service, a driving privilege suspension of up to six months, a two-point license penalty, and insurance surcharges.

According to statistics from 2021, 44 of the total number of pedestrians killed in fatal crashes in the state that year were crossing at marked crosswalks. Public safety authorities remind drivers to follow these best practices:

  • Stop and wait for pedestrians to cross.

  • When turning on red, keep an eye out for pedestrians.

  • Avoid blocking or parking in crosswalks.

  • Keep the windshield of their vehicle clean for maximum visibility.

  • Keep an eye out for signs indicating high-risk areas where children may play near or cross the street, such as schools, bus stops, parks, and playgrounds.

  • Never pass another vehicle that has come to a complete stop for a pedestrian.

New Jersey Stop Sign Law

New Jersey state law hands down penalties to drivers for failing to stop at a traffic light. Running a red light or stop sign is one of the most common causes of car accidents on the state's roads. Failure to comply with the regulation may result in a fine of $50 to $200, 15 days in jail, and a two-point license penalty.

Motorists are also required to proceed cautiously from a red light after it turns green, as there may be other cars coming through or still in the intersection. A driver entering an intersection with a stop sign must also stop completely when it's within five feet of the nearest crosswalk or stop line.

New Jersey Distracted Driving Laws

In New Jersey, it is against the law to use a handheld cell phone while driving. Violators risk receiving a $600 fine and having their driver's license suspended for 90 days. Drivers who use a cell phone are not breaking the law if they call the police to report a fire, a traffic accident, a major road hazard, a medical or hazardous materials emergency, another driver who is driving recklessly, carelessly, or in a dangerous way, or another vehicle that looks like it is being driven by someone who is drunk or high.

Kulesh and Kubert's, and Bolis Law

Despite the dangers of texting and driving, drivers continue to do so — smartphone use while on the wheel accounts for 25% of all distracted driving accidents in New Jersey. This has prompted the more stringent Kulesh and Kubert's, and Bolis Law, which designates the illegal use of a cellular telephone while driving as recklessness under the assault by auto and vehicular homicide statutes. Vehicular homicide is punishable by five to 10 years in jail along with a penalty of up to $150,000, while assault by automobile is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

New Jersey DWI/DUI Laws

Driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or with a BAC of .08% or higher is illegal in New Jersey. Alcohol impairs a driver's senses and judgment, which can lead to car accidents. Figures show that the number of fatal crash victims with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit increased by 22.7% from 132 in 2020 to 162 in 2021. Violators of the state's drunk driving law face severe penalties in addition to other penalties assessed for DWI/DUI. Penalties are more severe for repeat offenders.


First Offense (< .10% BAC)

$250–$400 fine

Jail time not exceeding 30 days

3-month driver's license suspension

First Offense (> .10% BAC)

$300–$500 fine

Jail time not exceeding 30 days

Seven months to one year of license suspension 

Second Offense

$500–$1000 fine

48 to 90 days of imprisonment 

30 days of community service

2-year driver's license suspension

Third Offense

$1000 fine

Incarceration of not less than 180 days

10-year driver's license suspension

It is also important to note that refusing to take a breath test is illegal under state law. Penalties include fines, loss of driving privileges, installation of an ignition interlock device, and referral to an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.

New Jersey Drowsy Driving Laws and Maggie's Law

Drowsy driving accidents in New Jersey are a major threat to car occupants and pedestrians, and the state reported 418 such accidents in 2021. Sleep deprivation, like alcohol, has a significant impact on a driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely and carefully. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 21 and 24 hours of no sleep equate to .08% and .10% BAC, respectively. 

Under Maggie's Law, motorists who drive while knowingly impaired by lack of sleep or fatigue will be charged with recklessness under the vehicular homicide statute. Violation of this legislation is punishable by up to 10 years behind bars and up to a $100,000 fine.

New Jersey Reckless Driving Laws

Motorists who drive dangerously, endangering the safety of others, are punishable under New Jersey laws. First and second offenders may face imprisonment for up to 90 days and a maximum $500 fine. Convicted reckless drivers may expect to see their auto insurance rates increase by as much as 50%.

New Jersey Hit-and-Run Penalties

Offenders of hit-and-run accidents that resulted in serious injuries or death may face a potential maximum penalty of $5,000 and/or 180 days behind bars. They may also temporarily or permanently lose their driver's license, depending on the number of offenses they have committed. 

New Jersey Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements

New Jersey requires car drivers to have either a Standard or Basic Policy with both personal injury protection (PIP) and liability coverage for their vehicles. PIP is the owner's medical coverage for injuries, while liability — which includes bodily injury and property damage liability coverage — pays victims for the damage or losses from an auto accident that the owner has caused.

Car owners can also purchase uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, and collision coverage types. Moreover, they are encouraged to add comprehensive coverage to their policy for added protection, especially if their cars have been damaged due to vandalism, theft, or flooding. 

Most New Jersey car drivers opt to purchase the Standard Policy because it allows them to select from several different coverage options and provides them with the opportunity to obtain additional protection. While the Basic Policy costs less and offers fewer benefits, it does provide enough coverage to meet the state's minimum insurance requirements. Here is a table that shows the differences between the Standard and Basic Policies:

Personal injury protection

$15,000 per person,

per accident

Up to $250,000 for

certain injuries

As low as:

$15,000 per person

or accident

As high as:

$250,000 or more

Up to $250,000 for

certain injuries regardless

of selected limit

Bodily injury liability

Coverage is not

included, but $10,000

for all persons, per

accident, is available

as an option

As low as:

$25,000 per person,

$50,000 per accident

As high as:

$250,000 per person,

$500,000 per accident

Property damage liability

$5,000 per accident

As low as:

$25,000 per accident

As high as:

$100,000 or more

Uninsured/underinsured motorist


Coverage is available up

to amounts selected for

liability coverage


Available as an option

(from some insurers)

Available as an option


Available as an option

(from some insurers)

Available as an option

New Jersey Insurance Coverage Options for Lawsuits

In New Jersey, automobile insurance policyholders can select between the Unlimited Right to Sue and Limited Right to Sue lawsuit options. Under the first one, insurance owners can sue the person who caused an accident for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. On the other hand, the limited option won't allow the policyholder to file a claim for pain and suffering unless they have sustained a displaced fracture, lost a body part, or suffered significant disfigurement, permanent injury, significant scarring, or death.

New Jersey is a No-Fault State for Insurance Claims

New Jersey is among the states that follow a no-fault car insurance system. This means when someone is involved in a car collision — no matter who was at fault — their PIP coverage pays for their hospital bills and lost wages, depending on which part of the coverage the owner has purchased. 

This no-fault car insurance system covers the policyholder and the following individuals, given that they do not own an auto insurance policy: family or household members, anyone authorized by the policyholder to drive their car, and passengers in the vehicle.

New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits

After a car crash in New Jersey, a victim has two years, beginning from the date of the accident, to file a lawsuit in civil court. This can cover situations when a car insurance provider refuses to offer a reasonable amount of compensation or wrongfully turns down a valid claim. The family members of individuals who died due to the negligence of others on the road also have a two-year deadline to file a wrongful death claim.

The exceptions to the statute of limitations include the following:

  • Minors who wish to file claims for the injuries they suffered may do so when they turn 18 until they are 20 years old.

  • Accident victims who have an existing mental disability may file a lawsuit until they can understand their legal rights.

  • Victims are given, under the discovery rule, two years to file a claim after they discover an injury.

  • The at-fault party is out of state.

Average Settlements for New Jersey Car Accident Lawsuits

How much someone can sue for a car accident in New Jersey is determined by several factors, including the person's capacity for proving liability and the scope of the losses they incurred. The state's no-fault policy for insurance only allows people to make a minor or moderate auto accident claim through their own no-fault PIP coverage.

Meanwhile, under New Jersey's modified comparative negligence law, an individual cannot recover damages if their share of fault for the accident is higher than that of the individual from whom damages are sought. 

If the driver is partially at fault in an accident following an investigation by the insurance company, any payment or compensation they receive from the other driver's insurer will be lowered by that amount. For example, if they were 50% at fault for the accident and their car sustained $5,000 in damage, the other driver's insurance company would pay them $2,500. 

Legal Resources for New Jersey Car Accident Victims

New Jersey Personal Automobile Insurance Plan (NJ PAIP)

NJ PAIP assists New Jersey residents who are unable to obtain personal automobile insurance from their preferred insurance providers due to being classified as high risks.


PROBONONJ is a public service operated by the Legal Services of New Jersey. It provides pro bono civil legal assistance to disadvantaged New Jersey citizens.

New Jersey State Police & New Jersey Turnpike Authority Crash Report Requests

Fill out online forms to obtain information about non-toll, Turnpike, and Garden State Parkway car accidents, boat crashes, and serious and fatal collisions.

Self-Reporting Crash Form

Access the New Jersey Self-Reporting Crash Form (SR-1) to report a car accident that was not investigated by law enforcement.

New Jersey Car Insurance Requirements

Learn more about pertinent information about the mandatory car insurance coverage for drivers in the state, including required documents and guidelines for reporting insurance fraud. New Jersey car owners and drivers can purchase a Basic or Standard Policy.

Insurance Companies in New Jersey

Check out the list of insurance firms authorized to write automobile liability insurance in New Jersey.

Filing an Auto Damage Claim With Another Insurer

This source contains details on what New Jersey residents should know when filing a car damage claim. Read responses to frequently asked questions about the process.

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