Get Help From A New Jersey Driving On A Suspended License Attorney
It is more common than it probably should be that folks drive with a license that has been suspended by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission [“MVC”] or revoked by a court. In New Jersey, there are no provisions for any kind of a hardship or a work-only license. Once a person’s driving privileges are suspended or revoked in New Jersey, that person may not drive for any purpose.
You simply cannot drive, and if you get caught driving while your license is suspended or revoked, you face the consequences. Fines are $500 for a first offense, $750 for a second offense, and $1,000 for a third or subsequent offense. While there is no jail term for a first offense, there is a jail term of one-to-five days for a second offense, and a jail term of 10 days for a third or subsequent offense. An additional jail term of 45 days is added if the offense involves a motor vehicle accident with personal injury to someone other than the defendant. There is also an additional fine of $500, an additional jail term between 10 and 90 days, and an additional driving privilege revocation of no less than one and no more than two years if the defendant’s driving privilege was revoked from a conviction for either operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs [“DUI”] or breath test refusal [“BTR”] or operating without insurance. Finally, MVC assesses surcharges at the rate of $250 per year for three years. If a person drives enough times with a suspended or revoked license, MVC will also revoke a person’s registration privilege, meaning his or her car could be subject to forfeiture.
In two situations, driving with a revoked or suspended driving privilege is a felony in New Jersey–i.e., if a person is caught driving (a) a first time after a second or subsequent DUI or BTR conviction or (b) a second or subsequent time after a first DUI or BTR conviction. This felony is a fourth-degree crime in New Jersey, meaning you face a fine and a jail term of no less than six months and no more than 18 months.
This law went into effect on August 1, 2010. Many people who have been revoked for a long time never heard of this law until the worst happened–getting caught driving and being indicted for the crime. It is up to a jury then to decide whether a person’s guilty or not, but the elements are so straightforward and simple for the state to prove. It is only in a rare case where a jury might return the verdict of not guilty–usually when there is a question whether the person was operating a motor vehicle or if there was a compelling necessity for that person to drive.
Do Most of These Driving While Suspended or Revoked Cases Even Make It to Trial?
Such charges are difficult to defend because it is easy for the State to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt–i.e., whether the defendant was driving, whether he or she was suspended or revoked for DUI and/or BTR at the time, and whether he or she knew that fact. The state will usually have law enforcement testify who was the driver, and as far as establishing who is on the revoked list, it can introduce the MVC record about the person’s driving status. In terms of establishing the reason for the revocation, the State can get the judgment of conviction from the court convicted the person of DUI/BTR. Knowledge can generally be inferred because there are certain statements read to defendants about the consequences for driving while revoked from a DUI or BTR.
Most attorneys should take these cases to trial unless there are other related charges that significantly raise the defendant’s risk of extended jail. If there are no aggravating factors, cases should go to trial because there is always a chance something can fall apart at any trial. Even if a person receives a maximum 18-month jail term, most first offenders will receive jail credits for good time and work, among others, such that the actual jail term will be much less or even equal to the minimum six-month jail term. By the time they calculate in commutation, good time, and work credits, wardens will generally try to pull you out of prison at the earliest opportunity. With this mandatory period of minimum incarceration set at six months in our state, there really does not seem to be a much downside risk going to trial. Usually, judges will impose the minimum sentences because the vast majority of people who are charged with this do not have any prior criminal record.
Is There a Way to Avoid Criminal Prosecution for the Crime of Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License?
If you do not have a prior criminal record or prior pretrial diversion, you can also apply for a once in a lifetime diversion from prosecution called Pretrial Intervention [“PTI”]. When admitted to this PTI program, a person is, for practical purposes, on a period of probation ranging from six months to three years. If completed successfully, the charges would be dismissed.
The County Prosecutor has broad discretion to approve who gets accepted into or rejected from PTI. Most county prosecutors in New Jersey take the position that, because of the mandatory jail term, the Legislature has determined the offense to be sufficiently serious so that no diversion programs should be permitted. While this is being challenged in appellate courts, so far, prosecutors are having their way with this, and there are very few people charged with this new form of driving while revoked because of a DUI or BTR conviction. Very few people are being offered PTI as they might if charged with, say, assault, theft, or drug possession. It is an awful situation because people charged with two crimes in New Jersey are receiving the diversions whereas those charged with what amounts to a glorified traffic offense are not. So, you need an attorney to basically be vigorously defend in the hopes that maybe the prosecutor will bend or come up with a creative defense.
Driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license in New Jersey is a very serious traffic offense and, under certain circumstances, a crime. In the unfortunate event you get caught for driving on a suspended or revoked license, you should get help from a New Jersey Driving on a Suspended License Attorney. A qualified and experienced Asbury Park NJ License Restoration Attorney will be familiar with the local laws and he or she will know how to handle the case and have your license reinstated.
For more information on Driving with Suspended or Revoked License in New Jersey, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 218-9090 today. Attorney John Menzel is an experienced attorney who has many years of experience defending those caught Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License in New Jersey.
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