Driving While Suspended

Driving while suspended, N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 is a serious charge with significant wide ranging ramifications. Your license can be suspended by either the Director of the Motor Vehicle Commission or by a Superior Court or Municipal Court Judge.

The Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license if you have accumulated 12 points in 2 years or more than 15 points in a period greater than 2 years. You will receive a notice regarding the proposed suspension and you can schedule a conference with an administrative law judge to try to negotiate a lower suspension.

A Municipal Court Judge can suspend your license for a number of moving violations and other motor vehicle violations described below, which, while not a complete list gives you a sense of the multitude of circumstances in which your license can be suspended and the duration of the suspension.

  • Driving without a license – never having been licensed in NJ or elsewhere (no license to be issued for at least 180 days)
  • Using a counterfeit license plate (6 months)
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and causing serious bodily injury (6months)
  • Operation of a motor vehicle while possessing a controlled dangerous substance (2 years)
  • Driving while intoxicated (3 months to 1 year for first offense depending on BAC)
  • Refusal to consent to breath samples/chemical test after an arrest (6 months for first offense)
  • Leaving the scene of an accident (6 months if property damage and 1 year if personal injury or death for the first offense)
  • Abandonment of Motor Vehicle (up to 2 years for first offense)
  • Failure to have automobile insurance coverage (1 year for first offense)
  • Misstatement of fact when applying for a license or registration or when selling/transferring a motor vehicle (6 months to 2 years)
  • Possession of Marijuana and other controlled dangerous substances (at least 6 months)
POTENTIAL PENALTIES:

I. 39:3-40 Driving while license suspended, refused, revoked or prohibited:

First offense : $500 fine (plus $33 court costs) and up to 6 months additional loss of license. (Note: A suspension imposed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission does not count as a prior suspension for purposes of sentencing in municipal court on a charge for N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 driving while suspended. This is an important detail because depending on the nature of the second offense you could be subject to imprisonment.)

Second Offense : $750 fine (plus $33 court costs) and 1 to 5 days imprisonment and up to 6 months additional loss of license. If a second offense is within 5 years of prior N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 conviction then mandatory revocation of all registration certificates during license suspension AND if offense involves a moving violation then additional 10 days imprisonment.

Third offense : $1,000 fine (plus $33 court costs) and 10 days imprisonment and up to 6 months additional loss of license. If second offense within 5 years of prior N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 conviction then mandatory revocation of all registration certificates during license suspension AND if offense involves a moving violation then additional 10 days imprisonment.

II. 39:3-40(f)(1) Driving while suspended for driving without insurance:

First offense : $1000 fine (plus $33 court costs), possible imprisonment up to 90 days and up to 12 to 30 months additional loss of license.

Second Offense : $1,250 fine (plus $33 court costs); imprisonment for 1 to 95 days and 12 to 30 months additional loss of license. If second offense within 5 years of prior N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 conviction then revocation of all registration certificates during license suspension AND if offense involves a moving violation then additional 10 days imprisonment.

Third offense : $1,500 fine (plus $33 court costs) and 10 to 100 days imprisonment and 12 to 30 months additional loss of license. If second offense within 5 years of prior N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 conviction then revocation of all registration certificates during license suspension AND if offense involves a moving violation then additional 10 days imprisonment.

III. 39:3-40(f)(2) Driving while suspended for driving while intoxicated, refusal to chemical test or habitual offender(first offense)

First offense : $1000 fine (plus $33 court costs), and imprisonment 10 to 90 days and additional 12 to 30 months additional loss of license. Revocation of all registration certificates during license suspension AND if offense involves a moving violation then additional 10 days imprisonment. Also, see additional penalties pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50a.

Second Offense : $1,250 fine (plus $33 court costs); imprisonment for 11 to 95 days and 12 to 30 months additional loss of license. Revocation of all registration certificates during license suspension AND if offense involves a moving violation then additional 10 days imprisonment.

Third offense : $1,500 fine (plus $33 court costs) and 20 to 100 days imprisonment and 12 to 30 months additional loss of license. Revocation of all registration certificates during license suspension AND if offense involves a moving violation then additional 10 days imprisonment.

It is very important to note that in addition to the above fines and penalties if personal injury was suffered due to an accident – even if the accident WAS NOT the fault of the defendant driver - then an additional 45 to 180 days imprisonment shall be imposed.

The State must prove or provide the following elements to obtain a conviction.

  1. Certified Abstract showing suspension
  2. Notice of proposed suspension with your mailing address;
  3. Order of suspension;
  4. Mailing list or notice that suspension was court ordered with your name and address.
  5. Documentation as to whether this was an administrative suspension imposed by the Motor Vehicle Commission or whether it was a Court ordered suspension imposed by a Superior Court or Municipal Court Judge;
  6. Operation of the vehicle by the defendant.

If the State is unable to establish any of the elements then you have a valid defense to this offense and perhaps can have it dismissed.

In the event you were eligible to have your license restored but simply failed to do so than it would be vital to have it restored before going to court. If you have your license restored before going to court then you may be in a good position to have the charges downgraded.

Losing your license in the State of New Jersey where mass transportation is limited (although no doubt Uber and Lyft has helped) makes the violation of Driving while Suspended not only financially cost prohibitive due to the fines but also due to the constraints to find transportation to get to work. Going out socially, running errands and medical care will all be restricted by your loss of license. Crucially, most of the offenses include potential if not mandatory time in jail - the most solemn restriction of your freedom.

I urge you to call me, a criminal trial attorney to allow me to review your case. I will make sure the State has proved their case; I will look for missing documents or deficient documents. Let me limit your financial outlay and minimize any loss of license or potential jail time.