By Kenneth Vercammen
If a driver in New Jersey receives too many points after traffic violations or commits a moving violation while suspended, the Motor Vehicle Commission or MVC [formerly the Division of Motor Vehicles or DMV], will mail the driver a Scheduled Suspension Notice. The MVC/DMV notice will set forth the date the suspension is scheduled to start as well as the length of suspension. In addition, if you received a moving violation ticket while your drivers license was suspended, the MVC/DMV usually also schedules a suspension. If you receive a Scheduled Suspension Notice, it is important to immediately retain an experienced Criminal/Traffic Attorney to discuss possible ways to reduce the suspension.
A written request for hearing must be served on the MVC/DMV. If the written request for hearing is not received prior to the scheduled suspension, the MVC/DMV will automatically suspend your driver's license for the maximum period permitted.
Hearings are generally held in Trenton, Eatontown, Mahwah, and Deptford. Hiring an attorney to reduce license suspension often ranges in costs between $1,000.00-$1,500.00. There is no Public Defender or free attorney in MVC/DMV hearings. Kenneth Vercammen's Law office represents individuals charged with criminal and serious traffic violations throughout New Jersey. Our office helps people with traffic/ municipal court tickets including drivers charged with driving while intoxicated, refusal and on driving while suspended.
After you retain an attorney, they will usually serve a written Opposition to Suspension AND REQUEST FOR ALJ HEARING. Your attorney will request a hearing on any proposed suspensions or other administrative actions.
Demand will be made that the Motor Vehicle Commission/Division of Motor Vehicles provide your attorney with discovery pursuant to the New Jersey Administrative Code, NJAC 1:1-1 et seq. and NJAC 1:13-10. Your attorney¹s letter needs to set forth legal issues and defenses he or she intends on raising at the hearing.
A valid suspension of a driver's license cannot be effectuated in the absence of a written notice to the licensee at his or her last known address. This notice must recite the fact that the suspension will take place and provide the date of commencement of the suspension. State v. Kindler 191 N.J. Super. 358,360 (Law Div 1983). Failure to appear for a summons is not a substitute for the written notice required by the statute, Id at 361.
The MVC/DMV, prior to suspending a license or taking specific action against a driver, must mail a notice to the driver informing them of the proposed suspension or any other action. The proposed action to be taken against any licensee by the MVC/DMV becomes effective on the date set forth on the notice except when otherwise specified. Such is the case unless the licensee or his/her attorney makes a request, in writing, for a hearing within 25 days from the date of notice. New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC)13:19-1.2.
Under NJAC 13:19-1.2, the MVC/DMV should require a prehearing conference with a MVC/DMV employee, or transmit the matter to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing pursuant to NJAC 1:1. An Opportunity Hearing is held in Trenton, Eatontown or another regional center. The hearing is often 7 months after the request for hearing. If the parties cannot reach a resolution, the matter will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. NJAC 13:19-1.8(d).
The motor vehicle statute, NJSA 39:3-40, is quasi-criminal and penal in nature, and must be strictly construed against the State. State vs. Churchdale-Leasing Inc., 115 N.J. 83, 102, 557 A. 2d 277 (1989). The word conviction, as it is used in NJSA 39:3-40, refers only to a plea or a finding of guilt in a court of competent jurisdiction and not to an order of suspension entered by the MVC/DMV as the result of an administrative proceeding. State vs. Conte, 245 NJ Super. 629 (Law Div. 1990).
Generally, an attorney can only reduce the suspension period, not eliminate suspension entirely. However, it is often important to reduce suspension time to save a job or a career. The following details the length of suspensions automatically if no hearing is requested in writing.
N.J.A.C. 13:19-10.2 Point Accumulation; period of suspension
(a) The Director shall, except for good cause, suspend a person's
license to operate a motor vehicle and/or motorized bicycle in accordance with the following schedule:
POINTS ACCUMULATED PERIOD OF SUSPENSION
12 to 15 points in a period of two years or less; 30 days
16 to 18 points in a period of two years or less; 60 days
19 to 21 points in a period of two years or less; 90 days
22 to 24 points in a period of two years or less; 120 days
25 to 27 points in a period of two years or less; 150 days
28 or more points in a period of two years or less; not
less than 180 days
15 to 18 points in a period greater than two years; 30 days
19 to 22 points in a period greater than two years; 60 days
23 to 26 points in a period greater than two years; 90 days
27 to 30 points in a period greater than two years; 120 days
31 to 35 points in a period greater than two years; 150 days
36 or more points in a period greater than two years; no
less than 180 days
12 to 14 points in a period greater than two years; 30 days
Protect your Rights.
Before you accept a drivers license suspension, consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling MVC/DMV matters.
About the Author
Kenneth A. Vercammen is a trial attorney in Edison, Middlesex County, New Jersey. He often lectures for the New Jersey State Bar Association, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and Middlesex County College on personal injury, criminal / municipal court law, and drunk driving. He has published 125 articles in national and New Jersey publications on municipal court and litigation topics. He has served as a Special Acting Prosecutor in seven different cities and towns in New Jersey and also successfully defended hundreds of individuals facing Municipal Court and Criminal Court charges.
In his private practice, he has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey several times each week on many personal injury matters, Municipal Court trials, matrimonial hearings, and contested administrative law hearings.
Since 1985, his primary concentration has been on litigation matters. Mr. Vercammen gained other legal experiences as the Confidential Law Clerk to the Court of Appeals of Maryland (Supreme Court), with the Delaware County, PA District Attorney Office handling Probable Cause Hearings, Middlesex County Probation Dept. as a Probation Officer, and an Executive Assistant to Scranton District Magistrate, Thomas Hart, in Scranton, PA.
KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817