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Common Downgrades and Defenses for Driving While Suspended

Posted by Matt Rooney | Feb 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Driving While Suspended (N.J.S.A. 39:3-40) is among the most serious traffic offenses in New Jersey municipal court. A conviction of Driving While Suspended can result in substantial fines, a longer suspension of your driving privilege and even jail time. The statute, NJSA 39:3-40, is legally complex and can be difficult to understand. Here's a basic overview of the possible penalties:

1st Offense

 – $500 fine, and

– driver's license suspension not to exceed 6 months

2nd Offense

 – $750 fine, and

– driver's license suspension not to exceed 6 months, and

– imprisonment not more than 5 days, and

– if 2nd offense occurs within 5 years of a conviction for N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, then revocation of registration certificate for the period driver's license is suspended (see N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.1)

3rd or Subsequent Offense

– $1000 fine, and

– driver's license suspension not to exceed 6 months, and

– imprisonment for 10 days, and

– if 3rd offense occurs within 5 years of a conviction of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, then revocation of registration certificate for the period driver's license is suspended (see N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.1)

The penalties are elevated in the event that a personal injury results from alleged violator's conduct. In those instances, the court is required to impose a period of imprisonment for not less than 45 days, or more than 180 days. If the accident results in the death of another person? Then the defendant shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree and the defendant's driver's license shall be suspended for an additional period of one year. Serious bodily injury to another person is a fourth degree pursuant to which a defendant's driver's license is supposed to be suspended for an additional period of one year.

And another thing… your license can be suspended for a host of reasons, some of which are not overly obvious including:

Failure to pay child support

Failure to pay parking tickets

Failure to pay MVC or “DMV” surcharges

Failure to carry motor vehicle insurance

Failure to pay a license restoration fee

If you license has been suspended because of overdue financial obligations our attorneys can often obtain a reduced charge that often involves a just a minimal fine

So the fines are substantial and the possible causes are numerous. Are their possible defenses?

Yes. For starters, the MVC is obligated to send a Scheduled Suspension Notice to you.  This has been the state of the law since Parsekian v. Cresse, 75 N.J. Super. 405 (App Div. 1962). If you did not receive the MVC Notice, then you may have a viable defense to the charge. There are also possible downgrades. The Court could amend the charge to a N.J.S.A. 39:3-10 violation, for which the fine could be as low as $200, or even a N.J.S.A. 39:3-29(A) which is a simple failure to have your documents violation. However, in order to downgrade your charge, you need to be both eligible for restoration and restore your suspended driving privileges prior to your court hearing. Don't just plead guilty! As you can see, there are lots of ins and outs when it comes to overcoming a driving while suspended charge and the stakes are high enough to justify reaching out for experienced help. If you have been charged in New Jersey with Driving While Suspended (N.J.S.A. 39:3-40), contact DeMichele and DeMichele at (856) 546-1350 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.   We are ready to prepare a vigorous defense for you. ______

About the Author

Matt Rooney

Practice Areas: Family Law (including Divorce, Alimony, Child Support, and Domestic Violence); Municipal Court; Personal Injury; Residential Real Estate; Civil Litigation; Collections.

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