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Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Interviewer: What infractions are considered the more serious moving violations?

Ron Mondello: Let’s talk about another, since you tapped into the younger driving market. I handle many cases involving leaving the scene of an accident. A lot of your younger drivers, 17, 18, 19, have a first accident and they panic. What do you do when you panic? You drive away.

Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Can Include Jail Time

It is a very stupid mistake, but it happens very often. If you’re in an accident with another vehicle and somebody is injured, and quite frankly today everybody is injured for lawsuit purposes I imagine. If you leave the scene of an accident and there is property damage and an injury to that driver, you’re looking at a one-year loss of license. You could spend a period of time in jail.

It Is Important to Consult with an Attorney if You Have Received a Leaving the Scene of an Accident Ticket

There’s 8 points for leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury. It is a very dangerous ticket to receive. And again, absolutely, somebody needs to consult with an attorney that specializes in traffic tickets to talk about a leaving the scene of an accident ticket. I’ve handled many of those tickets. They have all worked out favorably for one, so it makes a lot of sense to speak to an attorney about it.

Attorney Mondello Has Been Very Successful in Having the Offense Reduced for His Clients

The usual scenario involves a new driver, a good student again, no prior history whatsoever, who just panicked and took off. There were no serious injuries to the other driver, maybe some minor damage to the other vehicle, all these can typically get that changed to a failure to report an accident, where that’s just fines. None of those other heinous penalties are imposed.

A CDS Citation: Being Ticketed for Drug Use in Your Vehicle

Interviewer: Are there any other driving issues you see with younger people?

Ron Mondello: I do. You see a lot of young drivers taking their car to the park, or a street, to take drugs. It’s not unusual that there are officers patrolling the park. There are officers patrolling the streets. A lot of towns don’t have overnight parking between certain hours. A police officer will come up to the car. The driver rolls down the window, and what do they smell? Not surprisingly, they smell the odor of burnt marijuana.

Everybody’s got to get out of their car. The driver, if they do find some marijuana, or some other drugs, the driver will be issued a ticket for CDS in a motor vehicle, which is a two-year loss of license. It’s worse than a DWI.

The Penalties for a CDS Offense Include a Two-Year Loss of License

Interviewer: What is CDS?

Ron Mondello: Controlled dangerous substance, CDS in a motor vehicle. That’s a two-year loss of license in New Jersey. It could ruin somebody, especially if they have a full-time job. Then, the other summonses one could be subject to are a driving under the influence. That could be written up. Possession of marijuana, possession of rolling papers, possession of a grinder, possession of a marijuana pipe, I see that very often.

The good news is if it’s a first offense, the individual could apply for conditional discharge, and get put on probation for six months. As long as they stay out of trouble, they avoid the penalties.

A Conditional Discharge Is Subject to the Discretion of the Judge

What you need to know is with conditional discharge; it’s in the judge’s discretion. He could still take the defendant’s license away from six months to three years. You have to argue to the judge that it would be a hardship case, and if you can prove a hardship to the judge, the judge doesn’t have to suspend the license. It’s in the judge’s discretion.

Is It Better to Have the Representation of an Attorney When Applying for a Conditional Discharge?

Interviewer: When applying for conditional discharge, is that something people can do on their own, or do they really need an attorney to help them, to shepherd them through it?

It Is Always Advisable to Consult with an Attorney for Any Type of Traffic Infraction

Ron Mondello: Well, actually, the answer is maybe. I often say that for any type of drug offense, somebody should at least talk to an attorney. This is because the attorney may be able to take a look at the discovery, find out that the stop was improper, find out that the search of the trunk was improper, or maybe just get the whole thing thrown out, as opposed to the defendant spending $1,000 on probation fines, or conditional discharge fees and fines.

At a minimum, they should at least speak to an attorney about it, but there are instances where in some courts the prosecutor is more than happy to just offer that to a defendant. For People who have had more than one offense, they should speak to an attorney because maybe they used up their first bite at the apple, the one and only first bite at the apple, and maybe they could have preserved it for another day.

What if You Receive Another Offense before Completing the Conditional Discharge?

Interviewer: What happens if you’re in the middle of conditional discharge? You haven’t finished probation, and you get another offense for anything? What would happen?

You Must Retain an Attorney for Any Subsequent Offense

Ron Mondello: What happens is you will go back to the municipal court on the original offense, and you would now have to deal with the new offense. In that instance, you’d have to have an attorney.

The downside is just so detrimental to the defendant that they have to hire an attorney. The attorney can do a number of things. He or she can contact the probation officer. They can see what the prior relationship of that probation officer is with the defendant. It is up to the probation officer to recommend that the defendant go back on conditional discharge, or maybe not. The defendant must speak with and hire an attorney.

It Is Not Uncommon for People to Receive a Second Offense before the First Offense Has Been Resolved

Interviewer: How often do you see people make mistakes when they’re in the middle of conditional discharge, or they haven’t even settled their first offense, and then something happens, and they commit another?

Ron Mondello: It happens a lot. It’s a violation of probation. There are a number of reasons that you can violate probation. If you don’t call your probation officer, if you get tested for positive for drugs in your urine, if you have an interview or meeting with you probation officer and you fail to attend. If you get arrested, if you get charged, there are many reasons. It does happen quite often.

Why Do You Need an Attorney? Your Attorney will Work to Have Your Conditional Discharge Reinstated so You Are Not Facing Multiple Charges

The defendant really needs to find an attorney experienced in that area to try to minimize the problems that the defendant has just gotten themself into. This is because if you violate your conditional discharge, you have to face the original charge and either plead guilty or go to trial.

If the attorney is successful with getting the conditional discharge reinstated, if he can convince the judge or the probation officer, they only have to deal with the second offense, and keep going through the conditional discharge for the first offense.

Are Citations for Moving Violations a More Serious Matter than You Might Think?

Interviewer: Are most people confused about what exactly they should do after they have been ticketed? Is that a reason for the delay in contacting an attorney?

Attorney Mondello Is Available to His Clients Any Day of the Week and Encourages Clients to Call Immediately if They Have Been Ticketed for a Moving Violation

Ron Mondello: Yes, most people have little or no experience in how to handle the potential consequences of a moving violation, so they don’t know what to do. Thank goodness there are plenty of attorneys that they can call. I’m typically available by cell phone and I can tell you, more than one case and perhaps in the hundreds I have received a call on a Sunday. To me, it is important, no matter what day it is, to fully explain to somebody what the ticket means and consequences are going to be, how we’re going to work to mitigate any penalties they could be facing.

More often than not this calms my clients immeasurably. After someone speaks with an attorney that’s competent in this area, it is guaranteed they will feel better and have a much better handle on how to go about dealing with their traffic ticket.

By Ronald P. Mondello