Driving While Suspended 39:3-40
Driving is a privilege most individuals take for granted. If your license is suspended, you may not operate a motor vehicle. Too often I meet individuals who have their lives ruined because they are alleged to have operated a vehicle with a suspended license. They plead guilty (even though they may have been technically not guilty) and the suspension is extended. They need to drive and get caught again and again. With police cars scanning plates, it is nearly impossible to avoid getting caught driving while your license or registration is suspended. Eventually they wind up owing thousands and in jail.
In a suburban state with no work license and no public transportation, this amounts to sentence of home detention. If your license or registration is suspended, you cannot drive to work, school, shop, worship, or any other daily need. Driving when your license or registration has been suspended, revoked, or prohibited can subject you to a further suspension as well as mandatory jail time for a second or third offense. If your license has been suspended for driving while intoxicated (DWI under 39:4-50), then there is a lengthy mandatory jail component.
The first time you are accused of driving while suspended, you are more likely to be given a second chance if you are represented by counsel. A second or subsequent offense becomes much more difficult to handle and include mandatory jail time. The best way to avoid being charged with a second or subsequent offense of suspended driving is NEVER PLEAD GUILTY TO A FIRST OFFENSE.
You should never try and handle a suspended license case on your own. The prosecutor may offer downgrades to a parking adjudication act offense under 39:3-40(i) and convince you to take it. While better than the standard suspended license or registration charge, there are hidden pitfalls including a $750 surcharge. That surcharge can lead to a further suspension.
MANY WAYS TO BE SUSPENDED
There are many ways for your license to be suspended.
- Suspension by a municipal court judge for certain traffic offenses.
- Administrative suspension by the MVC.
- Failing to appear in court or comply with a payment obligation.
- Conviction of a drug offense.
- Failing to pay insurance.
- Failing to pay MVC surcharge.
- DWI (driving while suspended for DWI which requires mandatory jail time, which can be elevated to a Fourth Degree Crime under 2C:40-26).
- Failure to restore a suspended license.
- MVC demand to retest some drivers suspected of having a physical or mental disorder that affects driving.
- Accumulation of 12 to 14 points within a two-year period.
- Failure to install ignition interlock device.
- Misrepresentation on a driver’s license application.
- Refusing to take a chemical breath test.
- Driving without insurance.
- Failing to pay an accident victim after a lawsuit.
- Abandoning a vehicle.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Failure to pay child support.
- Loaning your license or car to a suspended driver.
This is not an exhaustive list. The focal point of this article is to alert you that there are many ways that you can be suspended and that a suspension can have serious limitations for your liberty, property and freedom.
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TYPICAL SUSPENDED LICENSE PENALTIES
- $500 fine, and
- driver’s license suspension not to exceed 6 months
- $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)
PENALTIES WHERE LICENSE IS SUSPENDED FOR LACK OF INSURANCE
- $1000 fine, and
- driver’s license suspension not less than 12 months, nor more than 30 months,
- may impose incarceration not to exceed 90 days
- $1250 fine, and
- driver’s license suspension of not less than 12 months nor more than 30 months.
- may impose period of incarceration of not more than 90 days, and
- if 2nd offense occurs within 5 years of a conviction for 39:3-40, then revocation of registration certificate for period driver’s license is
- suspended (see N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.1)
3rd or Subsequent Offense
- $1500 fine, and
- driver’s license suspension of not less than 12 months nor more than 30 months, and
- incarceration of not less than 10 days, nor more than 90 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)
DRIVING WHILE SUSPENDED FOR DWI
In addition to the standard penalties for driving while suspended, the fine is increased by $500.00, and there is an additional suspension of one to two years. There is also a mandatory term of imprisonment of ten days to ninety days. The judge must also suspend the operator’s registration.
But wait, it gets worse. The charged of driving on the DWI revocation list can become a felony! Under 2C:40-26 a second conviction for driving while suspended, when the original suspension was for DWI/DUI, is a Fourth Degree crime. A minimum jail sentence of 180 days is required. It can be for up to eighteen months. There is no parole, or reduction of time off the 180 days for “good behavior.” The judge may, additionally, impose a fine. This fine can be any amount up to $10,000.00.
If you are facing a charge of driving with a suspended license or registration, all is not lost. Suspended license or registration charges are some of the most defensible charges. There is a great deal that the municipal prosecutor must do to gain a conviction. In many cases, an individual is entitled to be reasonably notified that their license is going to be suspended. Thus, the state must show due process was afforded to the defendant. Our office has the experience to obtain proofs that the proper notice was sent out. In many cases, it was not. We can even require the prosecutor to show who sent the notice out. Often, the MVC is unable to provide this information or it is substantial work for the prosecutor to do so. As a result, we are able to earn a dismissal or amendment to less serious charges for clients.
Many unsuspecting defendants who choose to go to court without counsel on a suspended license case are merely presented with a certified abstract. They plead guilty unaware that an abstract alone is insufficient to obtain a conviction. Additionally, many people are charged with driving while their license or registration is suspended for merely failing to pay the restoration charge. There is appellate court precedent that failure to pay a restoration does not extend the suspension period.
If you’re facing punishment for driving on a suspended license, call us today at 908-643-7005 for a free consultation. Our office frequently handles suspended license cases in Union, Somerset, Middlesex and Hunterdon counties.
Get your questions answered – call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation 908-643-7005