SENATE, No. 71

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2020 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator† CHRISTOPHER "KIP" BATEMAN

District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Clarifies that period of suspension remains in effect until driverís license is restored in certain cases.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

 


An Act concerning driving with a suspended license and amending P.L.2009, c.333.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† Section 1 of P.L.2009, c.333 (C.2C:40-26) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 1.††† a.†† It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40 and until the license has been restored, if the actor's license was suspended or revoked for a first violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and the actor had previously been convicted of violating R.S.39:3-40 while under suspension for that first offense.† A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment.

†††† b.††† It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40 and until the license has been restored, if the actor's license was suspended or revoked for a second or subsequent violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a).† A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment.

†††† c.†††† Notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided under N.J.S.2C:43-6 and the provisions of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:44-1, if a person is convicted of a crime under this section the sentence imposed shall include a fixed minimum sentence of not less than 180 days during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.

(cf:† P.L.2009, c.333, s.1)

 

†††† 2.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill clarifies current law to provide that a person can be charged with the crime of operating a motor vehicle during a period of license suspension: 1) while the period of suspension is in effect, and 2) until the driverís license has been restored by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).

†††† Current law provides that in certain instances of driving while suspended, where the underlying suspension is due to a DWI conviction, a person commits a fourth degree crime in addition to violating the Motor Vehicle Code. In recent years, there was a
divergence in the way these criminal cases were being handled across the State. The divergence was based on differing interpretations of the statute; specifically, whether the statute provided that a charge could arise only when a person was driving during the actual period of suspension, or if a charge could arise in cases where the period of suspension had expired, but the individual was driving without having the license restored by MVC.

†††† Recently, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court concluded in State v. Perry, 439 N.J.Super. 514, 519 (App. Div. 2015), certif. denied, ďthat the statute criminalizes the operation of a motor vehicle only while the operator is serving the court-imposed term of suspension and not thereafter.Ē† Appeal of this decision was denied certification by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Accordingly, scores of cases brought against repeat offenders charged with driving without a valid license, due to a suspension based on a DWI conviction, have been dismissed throughout the State.

†††† In response to this decision, the bill amends current law to specifically provide that a person may be charged for driving during the court-imposed period of suspension and for driving after its conclusion, but before the driverís license has been restored.