By Kenneth Vercammen If a driver in New Jersey receives too many points after traffic violations, the Motor Vehicle Commission or "MVC" [formerly the Division of Motor Vehicles or "DMV"], will mail the driver a Scheduled Suspension Notice. The MVC/DMV notice will set forth the date the suspension is scheduled to start as well as the length of suspension. In addition, if you received a moving violation ticket while your drivers license was suspended, the MVC/DMV usually also schedules a suspension. If you receive a Scheduled Suspension Notice, it is important to immediately sit down with an experienced Criminal/Traffic Attorney to discuss possible ways to reduce the suspension.
A written request for hearing must be served on the MVC/DMV. If the written request for hearing is not received prior to the scheduled suspension, the MVC/DMV will automatically suspend your driver's license for the maximum period permitted.
Hearings are generally held in Trenton, Eatontown, Mahwah, and Deptford. Hiring an attorney to reduce license suspension often ranges in costs between $900.00-$1,500.00. There is no Public Defender or free attorney in MVC/DMV hearings. After you retain an attorney, he or she will usually serve a written "Opposition to Suspension AND REQUEST FOR ALJ HEARING." Your attorney will request a hearing on any proposed suspensions or other administrative actions. Demand will be made that the Motor Vehicle Commission/Division of Motor Vehicles provide your attorney with discovery pursuant to the New Jersey Administrative Code, NJAC 1:1-1 et seq. and NJAC 1:13-10. Your attorney¹s letter needs to set forth legal issues and defenses he or she intends on raising at the hearing.
A valid suspension of a driver's license cannot be effectuated in the absence of a written notice to the licensee at his or her last known address. This notice must recite the fact that the suspension will take place and provide the date of commencement of the suspension. State v. Kindler 191 N.J. Super. 358,360 (Law Div 1983). Failure to appear for a summons is not a substitute for the written notice required by the statute, Id at 361.
The MVC/DMV, prior to suspending a license or taking specific action against a driver, must mail a notice to the driver informing them of the proposed suspension or any other action. The proposed action to be taken against any licensee by the MVC/DMV becomes effective on the date set forth on the notice except when otherwise specified. Such is the case unless the licensee or his/her attorney makes a request, in writing, for a hearing within 25 days from the date of notice. New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC)13:19-1.2.
Under NJAC 13:19-1.2, the MVC/DMV should require a prehearing conference with a MVC/DMV employee, or transmit the matter to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing pursuant to NJAC 1:1. If the parties cannot reach a resolution, the matter will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. NJAC 13:19-1.8(d). The motor vehicle statute, NJSA 39:3-40, is quasi-criminal and penal in nature, and must be strictly construed against the State. State vs. Churchdale-Leasing Inc., 115 N.J. 83, 102, 557 A. 2d 277 (1989). The word conviction, as it is used in NJSA 39:3-40, refers only to a plea or a finding of guilt in a court of competent jurisdiction and not to an order of suspension entered by the MVC/DMV as the result of an administrative proceeding. State vs. Conte, 245 NJ Super. 629 (Law Div. 1990).
Generally, an attorney can only reduce the suspension period, not eliminating suspension entirely. However, it is often important to reduce suspension time to save a job or a career. The following details the length of suspensions if no hearing is requested in writing.
N.J.A.C. 13:19-10.2 Point Accumulation; period of suspension
(a) The Director shall, except for good cause, suspend a person's license to operate a motor vehicle and/or motorized bicycle in accordance with the following schedule:
POINTS ACCUMULATED PERIOD OF SUSPENSION
12 to 15 points in a period of two years or less; 30 days 16 to 18 points in a period of two years or less; 60 days 19 to 21 points in a period of two years or less; 90 days 22 to 24 points in a period of two years or less; 120 days 25 to 27 points in a period of two years or less; 150 days 28 or more points in a period of two years or less; not less than 180 days
15 to 18 points in a period greater than two years; 30 days 19 to 22 points in a period greater than two years; 60 days 23 to 26 points in a period greater than two years; 90 days 27 to 30 points in a period greater than two years; 120 days 31 to 35 points in a period greater than two years; 150 days 36 or more points in a period greater than two years; no less than 180 days 12 to 14 points in a period greater than two years; 30 days
(b) For good cause shown, the Director may in his discretion permit a person to attend a driver improvement course of the Motor Vehicle Commission/Division of Motor Vehicles in total or partial satisfaction of a period of suspension imposed under (a) noted above. In exercising his or her discretion, the Director shall consider the person's driving record, prior warnings, driver improvement school attendance, maturity, and any other aggravating or mitigating factors.
Protect your Rights. Before you plea guilty and face potentially thousands of dollars in fees and surcharges, speak with an attorney who is experienced in handling these matters.
Consequences of a Criminal Guilty Plea
1. You will have to appear in open court and tell the judge what you did that makes you guilty of the particular offense(s)
2. Do you understand that if you plead guilty:
a. You will have a criminal record
b. You may go to Jail or Prison.
c. You will have to pay Fines and Court Costs.
3. If you are on Probation, you will have to submit to random drug and urine testing. If you violate Probation, you often go to jail.
4. In indictable matters, you will be required to provide a DNA sample, which could be used by law enforcement for the investigation of criminal activity, and pay for the cost of testing.
5. You must pay restitution if the court finds there is a victim who has suffered a loss and if the court finds that you are able or will be able in the future to pay restitution.
6. If you are a public office holder or employee, you can be required to forfeit your office or job by virtue of your plea of guilty.
7. If you are not a United States citizen or national, you may be deported by virtue of your plea of guilty.
8. You must wait 5-10 years to expunge a first offense. 2C:52-3
9. You could be put on Probation.
10. In Drug Cases, a mandatory DEDR penalty of $500-$1,000, and lose your driver's license for 6 months - 2years. You must pay a Law Enforcement Officers Training and Equipment Fund penalty of $30.
11. You may be required to do Community Service.
12. You must pay a minimum Violent Crimes Compensation Board assessment of $50 ($100 minimum if you are convicted of a crime of violence) for each count to which you plead guilty.
13. You must pay a $75 Safe Neighborhood Services Fund assessment for each conviction.
14. If you are being sentenced to probation, you must pay a fee of up to $25 per month for the term of probation.
15. You lose the presumption against incarceration in future cases. 2C:44-1
16. You may lose your right to vote.
The defense of a person charged with a criminal offense is not impossible. There are a number of viable defenses and arguments which can be pursued to achieve a successful result. Advocacy, commitment, and persistence are essential to defending a client accused of a criminal offense.
Jail for Crimes and Disorderly Conduct:
If someone pleads Guilty or is found Guilty of a criminal offense, the following is the statutory Prison/Jail terms.
NJSA 2C: 43-8 (1) In the case of a crime of the first degree, for a specific term of years which shall be fixed by the court and shall be between 10 years and 20 years;
(2) In the case of a crime of the second degree, for a specific term of years which shall be fixed by the court and shall be between five years and 10 years;
(3) In the case of a crime of the third degree, for a specific term of years which shall be fixed by the court and shall be between three years and five years;
(4) In the case of a crime of the fourth degree, for a specific term which shall be fixed by the court and shall not exceed 18 months.
2C:43-3 Fines have been increased recently! 2C:43-3. Fines and Restitutions. A person who has been convicted of an offense may be sentenced to pay a fine, to make restitution, or both, such fine not to exceed:
a. (1) $200,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the first degree;
(2) $150,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the second degree;
b. (1) $15,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the third degree;
(2) $10,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the fourth degree;
c. $1,000.00, when the conviction is of a disorderly persons offense;
d. $500.00, when the conviction is of a petty disorderly persons offense;
If facing any criminal charge, retain an experienced attorney immediately to determine you rights and obligations to the court.