Traffic Violations And COVID-19
Regarding Any Traffic-Related Matters that Your Firm Handles, Is There Anything Clients Should Know About the Ongoing Situation?
Right now, if the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission [“MVC”] assesses points for a traffic violation, MVC may suspend that person’s driving privilege administratively–i.e., outside of court. People with traffic violations should plead not guilty and hire an attorney. Hiring an attorney at this time will expedite a favorable disposition of the case. Otherwise, it may hang on for months. Prosecutors are reaching out to a lot of “pro se” defendants–i.e., people representing themselves. But there is a danger in this for the pro se defendant. The prosecutor may not offer the best deal available or one that the person doesn’t really understand.
Is There Any Exception Right Now for People Who Were Sentenced to Take DWI Courses? Are They Able to Complete Those Courses Online?
DWI courses are not being given online at this time. However, the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center [“IDRC”], the agency responsible for these courses, recently issued emergency regulations providing for an online course in combination with home confinement for either the two six-hour sessions required for most first offenders and the 48-hour sessions required for second or subsequent offenders. While these courses are not yet being given, no one is being held in non-compliance for failure to take the courses while this crisis is going on.
One problem that has arisen during the shutdown deals with people who plead guilty while the courts and MVC are locked down. In New Jersey, for most first offenders, there is an indefinite period of revocation during which the person would have to do two things: get an interlock installed and obtain a license from MVC with the imprint stating “Interlock Required” embossed on the license. MVC was closed until mid-June, while interlock installation companies remained open as essential businesses.
During the MVC shutdown, people could not terminate that indefinite revocation. However, an MVC spokesman has stated that, if those convicted of a first offense DWI paid a $100 restoration fee and $100 countermeasures fee and provide proof of interlock installation to MVC by mail, MVC would give credit from the date of the postmark on the letter. However, for the two-to-three-week time needed to process these restoration applications, the person’s driving privilege would appear as revoked on MVC computers, potentially leading to unwarranted but totally defensible charges of driving without an interlock or driving with a revoked driving privilege. For anyone who is facing such serious consequences now, I am adjourning their cases until courts open for in-person proceedings so we can deal with the cases in a more effective way.
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