Call Now For Help

732.580.1237

NJ Supreme Court Rules on Municipal Judge’s Ability to Suspend Driver’s Licenses

14
Jul
2010

by in Traffic Tickets

New Jersey Municipal Court Judge’s are authorized under statute to suspend the license of a driver for any “willful” violation. This week, the New Jersey Supreme Court set forth new guidelines for Municipal Court Judges to follow in imposing such sentences for reckless driving.

In State v. Moran, A-55-09, put forth certain factors that should be met by Municipal Court Judges that aim to guarantee that license suspensions are imposed fairly. The new rule is that municipal court judges must make a finding that the defendant’s intent was “willful” and also that the driver acted in a “deliberate” manner in driving recklessly.

These findings must be made on the record to assist review by higher courts on appeal.

In Moran, who was represented by Freehold’s Donald Lomurro, was convicted in Aberdeen Township of reckless driving in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-96. Moran was accused of improperly passing another vehicle in a left-turn lane. After being convicted, the municipal court judge suspended the defendant’s license for 45 days under N.J.S.A. 39:5-31 for driving in a “willful and wanton [manner] in violation of the rights and safety of others and [her]self” and also due to her emotional, obstreperous, and disruptive demeanor in court.

The judge’s ruling was affirmed in the Law Division and in the Appellate Division. The New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification and subsequently reversed the defendant’s license suspension. Judge Albin wrote the opinion for the court. He noted that that the license-suspension provision of N.J.S.A. 39:5-31 was not “hidden” and that all drivers are presumed to know the law.

However, the Supreme Court ultimately held that there should be clear guidelines to ensure uniformity and fairness. Specifically, the guidelines are:

  • The nature and circumstances of the defendant’s conduct, including whether the conduct posed a high risk of danger to the public or whether it caused physical or property damage.
  • The defendant’s driving record, including his or her age and how long the defendant has had a license and the frequency of prior infractions.
  • Whether the defendant has been free of infractions for a substantial period of time.
  • Whether the defendant’s character and attitude indicates that he or she is likely or unlikely to commit another offense.
  • Whether a license suspension would impose an excessive hardship.
  • The need for personal deterrence.

“No one would suggest that a court can take away one’s driving privileges on a whim or capriciously,” Albin said. “Random and unpredictable sentencing is anathema to notions of due process.”

LOCATIONS

*ALL LOCATIONS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY*

CALL NOW FOR HELP

732.580.1237

CONNECT WITH US

*No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey | Rating Methodology | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy
The information contained in on this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio or the information, products, or services contained on www.anthonyvecchiolaw.com for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
The results of verdicts and settlements mentioned herein are not typical. Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.

Site by Consultwebs.com: Law Firm Website Designers / Criminal Defense/DWI Lawyer Marketing.