Being allowed to drive a car on the roads of New Jersey is a privilege the state allows licensed drivers – not an undeniable right. This privilege is subject to rules and restrictions and can be suspended or revoked for certain violations.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our DUI/DWI defense lawyers for suspended licenses are here to help you keep your driving privileges or get your license back. We have successfully helped clients in Cape May County, Atlantic County, Atlantic City and elsewhere in South Jersey. We know that you need to travel to work, get to the doctor’s office, pick your kids up from school, and perform other daily tasks. We will work diligently to help protect your right to drive.
New Jersey License Suspensions
There are three main ways that your license can be suspended in New Jersey:
- Because of a traffic offense (or a number of traffic offenses),
- As a punishment for another offense, or
- Because of the Motor Vehicle Commission’s (MVC) regulations
If you committed a traffic offense that requires a period of license suspension, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI), your license is automatically suspended. Alternatively, if you commit enough traffic offenses to collect 12 “points” from other traffic offenses, your license will also be suspended. Some other crimes and non-driving offenses are also punished with license suspensions. These are especially common punishments for crimes commonly committed by minors, such as underage drinking offenses. Lastly, the MVC may suspend or refuse to issue a license if you do not follow their regulations. For instance, failing to renew your license by paying the required fee will mean your license is invalid and you cannot legally drive.
In New Jersey, your drivers’ license may be suspended for any of the following:
- Multiple traffic violations
- Refusing a DWI breath test
- Failing to pay MVC surcharges or parking tickets
- Failing to pay a license restoration fee
- Driving without car insurance
- Failing to pay child support
- Underage drinking charges
- Other criminal offenses
- Juvenile offenses
New Jersey does not offer provisional, work, or “hardship” drivers’ licenses when a person’s license is suspended for a DWI conviction. This makes life extremely difficult for those in this situation, and many resort to driving on suspended or revoked licenses.
Even if you are not yet 17 years old and are ineligible for a drivers’ license, you can still get your license “suspended.” Instead of immediately removing your driving privileges, New Jersey’s rules push back the date at which you can get your license. For instance, if you would be eligible to take the drivers’ test on your 17th birthday, but face a three month license suspension when you are 15 years-old, you will have to wait until three months after your 17th birthday before you may take the test.
Driving with a Suspended License in New Jersey
New Jersey takes the offense of driving without a license or driving with a suspended license very seriously. The basic law against driving without a valid license is found in the Motor Vehicle Code under N.J.S.A. § 39:3-10. This makes it illegal to get a license until you pass the proper testing requirements and pay the proper fees. Driving without a valid license can lead to a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. If you never had a license in the first place, you will face a minimum fine of $200 and a 180-day (6-month) license suspension. Note that the fine is “up to $500” and the imprisonment is not necessary, meaning a lawyer can help argue for reduced punishments.
N.J.S.A. § 39:3-40 lays out specific penalties for driving with a suspended license. Each of the following situations has their own level of punishment:
- If you drive while your license is suspended, you face a $500 fine. Unlike § 39:3-10’s fine, this fine is exactly $500 with no room for a lower fine “up to $500.”
- For a second offense of driving with a suspended license, you face a fine of $750 and mandatory jail time of one to five days.
- For a third or subsequent offense of driving with a suspended license, you face a fine of $1,000 and 10 days in jail.
In any case, you face additional license suspensions of up to 6-months for each offense. If your driving resulted in someone else’s injury, you will be sent to jail for 45-180 days. You also face an additional $500 fine if your license was originally suspended for a DWI, plus another 1-2 years of license suspension and 10-90 days in jail. For each subsequent offense, the jail time is increased another 10 days.
You can face additional punishments for driving during a suspension based on any of the following:
- Driving without insurance,
- Refusing a DWI breath test, or
- Being a “habitual offender” with three or more license suspensions within three years.
These penalties include an additional $500 fine, another one to two-year license suspension, and up to 90 days in jail (with a minimum of 10 days for a suspension based on habitual offenses or DWI breath test refusal).
There are other increased fines and jail time for driving on school property or in school crossings while suspended for any reason. Even if you did not know you were within one of these zones, the punishments mays still apply.
Even allowing someone else to drive your car while their license is suspended is also an offense that can land you a fine of $1,000 and up to 15 days in jail for a first offense.
New Jersey Suspended Drivers’ License Attorney
If you have lost your driving privileges in New Jersey, the Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney by calling our offices in Atlantic City, Northfield, Cape May Court House or Wildwood at (609) 800-2942 for a free consultation today.