New Jersey Police Joining Forces to Write Up Seatbelt Violators May Find Intoxicatedd Drivers Too

Many motorists may not realize it, but we will soon be in the midst of another highway safety campaign here New Jersey. Just as law enforcement agencies throughout the Garden State have benefited from funding to enforce mandatory seatbelt laws, towns such as Wayne, NJ, up in Passaic County will see their police officers out on patrol looking for traffic violators. And, while this may not concern most people, what it means is that the heightened vigilance and, likely, increased manpower on our public roadways could result in an uptick in drunken driving arrests as well.

As Bergen County DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I are attuned to the goings on throughout the state of police actions that can result in greater than normal drunk driving arrested, impaired driving summonses and marijuana (and other CDS) possession charges. This latest campaign will begin on May 19 and run through the first of June. It also reminds everybody of the coming summer vacation season, when the frequency of DWI-DUI patrols are typically increased due in response to the annual influx of tourists and party-goers to the Jersey Shore and other venues.

According to a new article, one of a vanguard of driving safety campaigns was announced by the Wayne Township PD recently. The so-called “Click It or Ticket” campaign is tailored to increase the awareness of drivers and passengers alike regarding the state law that requires all passengers to wear a safety belt regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle. Even though violation of the Garden State’s seatbelt law is a secondary offense, meaning that a motor vehicle cannot be pulled over solely because a police officer observes a motorist or passenger riding “sans belt,” the larger volume of police patrols will likely make for a busy campaign of traffic enforcement.

Based on news reports, the initiative is expected to include what are known as high-visibility seatbelt checkpoints manned by officers from around the state. Also anticipated are numerous “saturation patrols” out on local streets and interstates. Funding these efforts, police departments, such as the one in Wayne, are grants from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. This is the 13th consecutive year that Wayne itself has received funding for this kind of enforcement campaign.

These grants help to offset the increased cost of overtime paid for manpower needed in the nearly two-week enforcement period. Of course, not every jurisdiction receives funding, but the overall effect around the state is to heighten the public’s sense of increased enforcement, and by doing so, hopefully instill the habit of wearing one’s seatbelt whenever riding in a motor vehicle. Similarly, the frequent anti-DWI campaigns also place more police on the street during high-risk times of the year, that is, periods where traffic accident statistics show an rise in drunken driving crashes and deaths.

For the township of Wayne, the local police reportedly issued nearly 250 safety belt usage citations. But, as we’ve suggested previously, instances of other arrests and summonses were recorded. This time last year, for instance, Wayne patrol officers arrested five motorists for intoxicated driving, charged 13 individuals with drug-related offenses, and cited 14 people operating a motor vehicle while on a suspended driver’s license.

As New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys, my firm recognizes the advantage of wearing one’s seatbelt whenever traveling on public roads, not only to avoid potential monetary fines, but because safety belts are proven statistically to save lives. While New Jersey has what some might feel is a rather high compliance rate — that is, 91 percent of people do indeed wear a seatbelt in their car — the other nine percent may be taking unnecessary risks with their health and safety.

Wayne Police to participate in ‘Click It or Ticket’; NorthJersey.com; May 10, 2014