What Are the Penalties for First Time Driving with a Suspended License Charges in NJ?

Driving with a suspended license carries serious penalties.  The New Jersey legislature has decided that jail time is a mandatory penalty for many driving with a suspended license offenses.  Even a first offense suspension violation can be considered a fourth degree crime under certain conditions.  The Atlantic City license suspension lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain these charges and the potential penalties for first-time suspended license violations in NJ.

New Jersey’s Driving with a Suspended License Offenses Defined

In New Jersey, there are two different statutes that punish driving with a suspended license.  The first is N.J.S.A. § 39:3-40, which creates a traffic offense for suspended license charges.  The second is N.J.S.A. § 2C:40-26, which creates a fourth degree crime for certain suspended license offenses.  The traffic offense form of driving with a suspended license covers most of these offenses, including first-time and repeat suspended license offenses.  The criminal version covers multiple suspended license violations when the initial suspension was for DWI offenses or refusing a breathalyzer, as well as first-time offenses for driving with a suspended license after a second-time DWI or breathalyzer conviction.

Your license can be initially suspended for a wide range of offenses.  DWI is one of the most common reasons for license suspensions, but you can also lose your license for multiple driving offenses in a short period, failing to pay MVC surcharges, driving without insurance, underage drinking, and other offenses.  The only time that a first-time driving suspended charge will become a crime is if your license is suspended for a second DWI offense.  Otherwise, all license suspension violations are traffic violations under § 39:3-40.

Penalties for First-Time Suspended License Violations in NJ

Under NJ’s driving while suspended statutes, there are various levels of penalties for first-time offenses committed under different circumstances as well as repeat offenses.  The penalties increase if the circumstances are more dangerous, such as if you cause a crash while your license is suspended.  Penalties are also worse for repeat offenses.

The NJ statutes address driving suspended under the following circumstances:

  • A first-time violation when your license was suspended for DWI or refusing a breathalyzer,
  • A first-time violation when your license was suspended for driving without insurance,
  • A first-time violation involving an accident that causes injuries,
  • A violation in a school zone/school crossing, or
  • A first-time suspended license violation when your license was suspended for a second-offense DWI.

If you are arrested for a first-time violation without any of these additional circumstances, you are looking at a heavy fine of $500.  Whenever you drive without a valid license, you can also face another $500 and up to 60 days in jail under N.J.S.A. § 39:3-10 (driving without a license), in addition to the suspended license penalties.

If your license was initially suspended for DWI or refusing a breathalyzer, you face a $500 fine, an additional license suspension of 1-2 years, and 10-90 days in jail.  This adds a minimum 10-day jail sentence for this suspended driving offense.  If your license was suspended for driving without insurance, you face the same penalties, but without the minimum 10 days in jail.

If you are involved in an accident that causes bodily injury during any suspended license offense, you face 45-180 days in jail.  This is a high minimum jail sentence for a traffic offense.  Moreover, this offense does not take fault into account; you are strictly held to these penalties if any other person involved in the accident is injured, whether you caused the crash or not.

If any of these offenses take place in a school zone, school crossing, or near a school at a time where you know children might be present, you could face added penalties.  Many drug offenses and driving offenses have increased penalties in locations where children could be put at risk, including suspended license violations.

There are already upgraded penalties for driving on a DWI-suspended license, but the penalties are worse if the offense was your second DWI.  New Jersey law expects you to understand the risks of dangerous driving if you already faced one DWI, even if you never drove while suspended during your first DWI suspension.  Driving under these circumstances upgrades the offense to a fourth degree crime.  This is typically punished by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.  This offense has increased penalties, requiring a minimum of 180 days in jail without parole.

Suspended License Violation Defense Lawyer Offering Free Consultations in Atlantic City

If you or a loved one was arrested or charged with violating their license suspension, talk to one of our Atlantic City DWI attorneys today.  Many of these offenses carry a potentially high fine and jail time.  More severe offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences, ensuring you will spend some time in jail.  Talk to an attorney today about the charges you’re facing.  To schedule your free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.

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