You have constitutional rights under both the U.S. Constitution; and, under the N.J. State Constitution…you having a driver’s license is not one of them. The ability to drive a vehicle is a privilege, one that you can lose if you break too many traffic laws. The Court can take your license, as part of a sentence and so can the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, for the same offense because one is a sentence, and the other is an administrative sanction. Not only is that not double jeopardy, the two suspensions will run consecutively – not concurrently – so you can end up being punished twice as much for the same offense.
There are certain motor vehicle offenses, such as speeding, where the punishment on conviction is worse when the conduct of the driver shows a greater disregard of the law. A speeding ticket for 30 over the posted limit will be given a harsher sentence than a speeding ticket for 10 over. When you think about it, this is what Mom taught you, the worse your behavior the worse the punishment. That is why, as a NJ criminal defense lawyer I believe it is critical to work out the lowest plea bargain with a prosecutor before trying to convince the Judge to accept the plea. In many cases, the Judge will honor and accept the negotiated bargain and sentence in accord with it. A plea bargain effectively limits the sanctions that the Courts will impose for your actions and ends the involvement of the Court and the prosecutor…but it does not end the possibility for the State of New Jersey to punish you administratively through the MVC, which I always warn my client’s to be aware of…
Unfortunately, the MVC in New Jersey changed it’s policy on whether it would impose a loss of license if it believed the Court should have suspended your license, but did not suspend you. The suspension assessment by the Commission is based on your full drivers license history, not just the facts of what you pled guilty to in Court. There are factors that the Court and the MVC reviews to determine the type of punishment, including a loss of driving privileges, that they will impose on you. Some types of offenses (like DWI for example) have statutory periods of license suspension, which the Judge must impose upon conviction in Court. Where a suspension is optional, the Court can use a series of factors, such as your prior record; the speed limit you were supposed to be driving; the speed you were observed driving at; whether there was other traffic on the roadway; the manner you were driving (such as recklessly switching lanes, etc.); and, other similar factors, to decide whether to suspend your license as part of the sentence by the Judge. Similarly, the MVC will use these types of factors, as well as all prior determinations of the MVC in regard to your driving privileges, to determine what actions they will take against you.
All Commission suspensions are consecutive to a Court-ordered suspension. Once you are notified of the pending suspension by the MVC, you will have the possibility of requesting a hearing to challenge the LENGTH of the suspension, because it almost a forgone conclusion that you will be suspended by the MVC once they make a determination to do so. The question to be answered is, is how long will that additional suspension be, not whether there will be one. The most important step you need to take when you receive the notice from MV, is to file the request for the hearing within the timer period stated in the notice. If it is not in their hands (not in the mail, in their hands) before the suspension date, you are suspended and cannot drive in NJ for any reason without you risking being issued a ticket for ‘Driving on the revoked or suspended list’.
The information contained in this blog post is intended as marketing, not advertising, as is more fully stated in the Disclaimer Page of this blog site. This post is strictly intended for general informational purposes only, and DOES NOT constitute legal advice on any legal matter in N.J. or in any other jurisdiction.
No attorney-client relationship is intended, offered or established by this information, even if it is similar in nature to a situation you are facing. Should you be confronted with a criminal prosecution or investigation, you are strongly advised to consult immediately with an experienced criminal defense lawyer licensed in the State or jurisdiction where the charges are filed, with whom you will have an attorney-client relationship, and can obtain legal advice on how to best handle your issues. This direct consultation should be done before you make any decisions in regards to your legal issue.