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New Jersey Law Restricts the Use of Driver License Suspensions as Sanctions for Certain Crimes and Offenses


In 2019, Governor Murphy signed into law measures that substantially limit the use of driver license suspensions as a sanction for violating certain “non-moving” offenses. The law repealed (eliminated):

  • Driver’s license suspensions for juvenile adjudications and convictions for controlled dangerous substances, drug paraphernalia offenses, and violation of federal or other jurisdictions’ drug offense laws. It also repealed driver’s license suspensions for failure to appear, failure to comply with an indigency installment order, and failure to satisfy other municipal court penalties.
  • Automatic suspension of a driver license upon issuance of a child support related warrant and the six month to two year mandatory license suspension for guilty pleas under the conditional discharge program.
  • Mandatory license suspensions for driving while in possession of controlled dangerous substances, failure to pay surcharges, violation of prohibited gaming by minors, certain solid waste transportation offenses, underage drinking and certain parks and reservations violations. The new law also repeals the statutory authority for municipalities to enact ordinances which call for driver license suspensions for underage drinking.
  • Driver’s license suspension for juveniles’ violation of false public alarms and initial acts of graffiti. While the suspension of a driver license is still an available penalty in other juvenile delinquency cases, the court must now consider the circumstances of the act for which the juvenile was considered delinquent—not just the severity.
  • Discretionary license suspensions for abandoning a vehicle along a public or private property without consent.

Mandatory driver’s license suspensions for a number of offenses including: operating a vehicle without insurance, theft or unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, offenses involving false government documents are now discretionary. The court must consider the circumstances of the offense, whether the loss of driving privileges will create extreme hardship, and whether alternate means of transportation are readily available. Additionally, the court must consider these factors in driving-related cases where driver license suspension may be issued and when it considers suspensions for failure to pay a parking judgment.