When your license is suspended in New Jersey, it becomes a crime to violate the suspension. This offense is more than a minor traffic violation and can actually come with full criminal penalties and fines, including jail time. If you or a loved one was arrested for driving with a suspended license, you should speak with an Atlantic City license suspension attorney today. The attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych handle license suspension, drunk driving, and motor vehicle cases in and around Atlantic City.
Is Driving with a Suspended License a Crime in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey law, driving with a suspended license is classified either as a traffic offense or a crime, depending on the circumstances. In New Jersey, criminal offenses are either classified as disorderly persons offenses or indictable crimes. Indictable crimes, usually referred to as first, second, third, or fourth degree crimes, are similar to felonies in other states. On the other hand, disorderly persons offenses fill the role of misdemeanors. New Jersey also keeps traffic offenses separate, including serious offenses like driving while intoxicated (DWI) and refusing a breathalyzer test. While traffic offenses may not be “crimes,” they can still lead to arrest, trial, jail, and a record of the offense.
Driving with a suspended license is a serious traffic violation, similar to DWI and refusing a breathalyzer test. These traffic offenses are interrelated, and many suspended license offenses increase in severity if the license suspension initially occurred because of these offenses.
You can face a license suspension in NJ for various reasons, including underage drinking, juvenile offenses, failing to pay child support, and various vehicle-related offenses. No matter what the license suspension was based on, you can face serious penalties and fines for driving with a suspended license.
If you repeatedly drive while suspended for the same DWI offense, your driving while suspended offense is upgraded from a traffic offense to a fourth degree crime. This means that the offense will go on your criminal record and that the crime has a mandatory minimum jail time.
Penalties for Driving While Suspended in NJ
When driving while suspended is a traffic offense, it is punished under N.J.S.A. § 39:3-40. This covers most driving with a suspended license offenses, creating severe punishments for first, second, and third (or subsequent) offenses, including:
- A $500 fine for a first offense,
- A $750 fine for a second offense and 1-5 days in jail, and
- A $1,000 fine and 10 days in jail for a third or subsequent offense.
Any violation of this statute also comes with an extended suspension of at least 6 months. If the offense that suspended your license in the first place was for DWI or refusing a breathalyzer, the government can revoke your ability to register your vehicle for a period of time as well.
If you cause an accident while driving on a suspended license, you can be sent to jail for 15-180 days.
Under certain situations, the offense is upgraded to a fourth degree crime. This includes:
- Receiving 2 suspended license violations during the same suspension for a first-time DWI offense or
- Receiving a suspended license violation during the suspension for a second-time DWI offense.
A fourth degree crime is typically punished by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000. When you are convicted for this offense, the statute requires at least 180 days in jail, even though fourth degree crimes do not usually require this.
Any time your license is suspended, you also face surcharges and penalties with the MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission). There is a fee for restoring a suspended license, and DWI and refusing a breathalyzer both require annual surcharges after your license is restored.
Driving Without a License vs. Driving with a Suspended License
There is a separate traffic offense for driving without a license, as opposed to driving with a suspended license. This offense applies to children driving before they are old enough to get a driver’s license or adults and teens who never passed their driver’s test.
Violating this statute can mean fines up to $500 and jail time up to 60 days. If you never had a license in the first place, the fine has a minimum as well, guaranteeing you pay at least $200. You will also have your ability to get your license pushed back 180 days.
If you simply left your license at home, you may also face a traffic ticket, but without these severe penalties.
Atlantic City License Suspension Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was arrested or charged with driving on a suspended license, talk to an attorney about your case. Many of these offenses carry mandatory jail time, and it is vital to have an attorney help you with your case. For a free consultation on your case, contact the Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.