The Most Common Types of Driver’s License Suspensions

Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009
Theodore Sliwinski, Esq.

In New Jersey a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for an ever increasing amount reasons. This article will address the most common types of suspensions that a person can get in New Jersey.

1. Suspensions for Driving-Related Violations and Points

If you are found guilty of too many traffic tickets then your license may be suspended either by the Municipal Court judge or by the MVC. The MVC will send you a notice to inform you that your license will be suspended via a notice in the mail. This notice will advise you that license is scheduled to be suspended for certain reasons usually too many points. The notice will also explain what steps you can take to avoid a suspension. For example, if you have obtained 12 or more points, then in many cases you can attend a Driver Improvement Program to remove three points from your license and avoid the any scheduled suspension.

If you contest the MVC’s decision to suspend your license, then you must send them written notice to request a hearing. You should always request this hearing via certified mail. If your license has been suspended because of too many points, then you should contact the MVC to ask how long the suspension will last for and whether you owe any fines. The hearing will take place at a MVC regional center. These centers are located in Newton, Eatontown and Trenton. You will then meet a mid-level MVC hearing officer to discuss your case. Thereafter, the hearing officer will review your driver”s record on the computer, and he will ask you for your side of the story. You should always be courteous and respectful to the hearing officer. In most cases the MVC hearing officer will only suspend your license for a minimal period that can range from 14 to 30 days.

2. Suspensions for Failure to Appear in Court

If you fail to appear in Municipal Court for any reason, then the court will order that your license be suspended. You can’t expect to blow off the court system and get away with it. If you can’t remember which Municipal Court you blew off then you should call the MVC to find out which courts have suspended your license. In some cases, a warrant may have been issued for your arrest. Once you appear in court, then the warrant will be lifted, and you can request the court to lift your suspension.

3. Suspensions for Unpaid Parking Tickets

A suspension for an unpaid parking ticket is ordered by the Municipal Court wherein the ticket was issued. Therefore, if you blew off parking tickets in New Brunswick, then the New Brunswick Municipal Court most probably ordered that your license be suspended. To lift this type of suspension, then you must either appear in the court and contest the parking ticket and have the court dismiss it, or pay the fine for the ticket. If you want to contest the ticket, then you must follow the instructions on the ticket or call the municipal court that issued the ticket. If you blow off a parking ticket, a warrant will likely be issued for your arrest. If a warrant has been issued, then you must turn yourself into the court before you will be given a court date to contest the ticket. In closing, blowing off parking tickets can really have a snowball effect. Ultimately, you could receive a citation(s) for driving while suspended, and if found guilty you could have to pay mega-surcharges. All of this aggravation stems from an unpaid parking ticket. What a system!

4. Suspensions for Failure to Pay a Court-Ordered Penalty

A suspension can be imposed if you fail to pay any court-ordered fines. A warrant may also be issued for your arrest if you have failed to pay off the court-ordered fine. I have seen warrants issued even if a defendant did not pay a $10 late fee on a ticket. The court’s personnel are zealous in their efforts to collect their fines. If a warrant has been issued, then a bond or bail amount will likely be set at the total amount owed to the court. If you cannot pay the full amount, then you may ask the court for a payment plan. Usually, once there is a payment plan in place and a payment has been made, then the suspension will likely be lifted. However, if you miss a payment, then the  court will probably suspend your license once again. Thereafter, the court will be less inclined to agree to a second payment plan.

5. Suspensions for the Failure to Pay Child Support

If you have fallen six months or more behind on your child support payments, then your driver’s license will be suspended. Moreover, a warrant for your arrest could be ordered by the court. Thereafter, you should contact the Family Court that ordered your suspension to get more information about the amount of the arrears and the warrant. Generally, once a payment plan has been agreed to with the court, and payment has been made, then this type of suspension can be lifted.

6. Suspensions for Failure to Pay Insurance Surcharge

The MVC can also impose fines and they are called insurance surcharges. Surcharges can be imposed for many types of traffic tickets, for driving while suspended, having no insurance, and for everyone’s most dreaded offense – DWI. Surcharges are imposed once per year for three years continuously. If you fail to pay your surcharges, then the MVC will simply suspend your license. The MVC will suspend your license by sending you written notice. If you are a mobile person and move around a lot, then odds are you will never receive any suspension notice from the MVC. You could be in for quite a surprise if a police officer stops you, impounds your car, and then arrests you for driving while suspended.

By way of summary, driving while suspended because of  not paying outstanding surcharges will only create additional fines and an additional suspension. Surcharge-related suspensions can only be lifted by (1) paying the surcharge in full; (2) paying a lower amount on a negotiated payoff amount; or (3) by agreeing to a payment plan.

Unfortunately, there is no actual negotiation involved in a negotiated payoff amount. Instead, the Surcharge Department will mail you a lump-sum payment notice for an amount that is slightly less than the total due. If you cannot pay the negotiated payoff amount, then you should call the Surcharge Department and request a payment plan. If the payment amounts(s) in the plan offered by the MVC are too high, then you should request lower payment amounts. Once a payment plan is agreed to and a down payment is made, then your license will no longer be suspended. However, if you miss a payment, the MVC will impose a new suspension and you will again owe the remaining unpaid surcharge amount. If you cannot pay the surcharges at all, then it may be advisable to contact a bankruptcy attorney, and try to discharge your surcharges through bankruptcy. Surcharges can only be dischargeable in a Chapter 13 and not in a Chapter 7.

7. Suspensions for the Failure to Carry Insurance

If you are found guilty of driving without insurance, then the court will order your license suspended and possibly impose a fine. The MVC will impose an additional suspension. The MVC suspension may be lifted only after you (1) provide proof of insurance or (2) turn in the registration and license plates of the uninsured vehicle. Additionally, you must pay all fines and wait for the suspension period to pass before you will be eligible to begin the restoration process.

8. Suspensions for Criminal Code Violations

A suspension may be imposed as a penalty for the conviction of some criminal offenses, whether or not a motor vehicle was involved. The length of the suspension will vary depending upon your sentence. You can contact the Criminal Division Manager in the county where your sentencing took place to find out what statute you were convicted under.

In many cases, the suspension period is mandatory and will begin when you are released from jail. If the suspension is not mandatory, then you may want to discuss your suspension with an attorney to determine if any steps can be taken to reduce the imposed suspension. Once you have waited the ordered amount of time, then this type of suspension will be lifted.

Previous Article: Speeding Ticket FAQ's 1. How do the police measure a driver's speed? Generally, police use the following methods to catch you speeding: a. A visual estimate. The officer sees your car and estimates how fast [ more ] Next Article: The Notice Defense for Driving While Suspended 1. What is the best defense available to try to beat a driving while suspended case? Driving while suspended tickets issued under N.J.S.A. 39:3-40 are issued like hotcakes in the Garden [ more ]
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