TRENTON, NJ - The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill authored by Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman R-16th) to hold drivers accountable for proving they can act responsibly following a license suspension.
“Right now, suspending someone’s license is the equivalent to putting a child in ‘time-out.’ All they have to do to get their privileges back is sit around and wait for it to be over,” said Bateman, a municipal prosecutor and longtime member of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. “This bill will reduce the number of repeat offenders, by holding drivers legally accountable for taking the steps necessary to reinstate a suspended license.”
The bill amends current law so that a driver can still be charged with the crime of driving with a suspended license even after the period of suspension is up, if they have not completed the steps necessary to restore their driving privileges, such as paying fines.
Currently, a driver with a suspended license only has to wait until the court-imposed term of suspension has expired. This was reinforced by a Superior Court decision: State v. Perry, 439 N.J.Super. 514, 519 (App. Div. 2015.)
As a result, many courts have reportedly been unable to successfully prosecute offenders who had their licenses suspended due to a DUI conviction, which raises serious concerns for public safety, according to Bateman. His proposal would close this loophole in existing law and end the risk it poses to civilians statewide.
“Driving is a privilege, not a right. Anyone who has had their license suspended should be able to prove that they can act responsibly before they get back on the road,” Bateman added. “Correcting this oversight in State law is critical to keeping dangerous drivers, including those with repeat DUI convictions, from putting innocent people in harm’s way.”