Driver's License Suspensions For Non-Moving Violations No Longer Mandatory In NJ

A New Jersey law intended to dissuade judges from suspending driver’s licenses over parking ticket fines and other non-moving violations will finally go into effect Friday.

It is currently mandatory for judges in the Garden State to issue license suspensions for misdemeanor offenses or failing to pay fines, but the law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in December 2019, repeals that requirement effective Jan. 1. The law also repeals mandatory license suspensions for convictions related to the sale of illegal drugs and for people who have not paid child support.

“So many people have lost their licenses for non-moving offenses, which forces them to drive without licenses to go to work, to pick up their children, to survive,” said the Rev. Bryant Ali, pastor at Newark’s New Psalmist Worship Center. “They can’t afford to be without a license.”

The vast majority of license suspensions in New Jersey are not related to driving offenses, according to a study from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The study found 424,869 of New Jersey's drivers had a suspended license in 2018 and 91% of the suspensions were because of an event not related to driving.

These suspensions disproportionately affect residents in neighborhoods with large Black and Hispanic populations, the study says.

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The law was a longtime goal of state Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, who called mandatory license suspensions for non-moving violations “counterproductive” when Murphy signed the law last year.

“We want our residents to have their driver’s licenses so they can work and earn a living, pay off their fines, penalties and surcharges, take their children to school and doctor’s appointments and be productive citizens,” Turner said then.

Original Article