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Can This Be? A Bill to Reduce Fines in N.J.? [AUDIO]

Flickr User Loki69

Here’s a refreshing change. The full State Senate is one step away from voting on a bill that would dramatically lower fines for failing to produce a drivers’ license or registration if you’re pulled over by a cop.

Soak that in.

It’s extremely rare that lawmakers even think about taking less of your money.

The Senate Transportation Committee has approved legislation sponsored by State Senator Kip Bateman hat would reduce the fine for failing to produce those documents from $150 to $25 if the police officer conducting the stop can verify by electronic means that those documents have been issued to the person and are valid on the date of the charge. In instances where the officer is unable to verify via electronic means that the missing documents have been issued to the person and are valid on the date of the charge, the current fine of $150 would remain.

“Everyone who drives has at some point left their wallet or purse with their driver’s license at home, or forgotten to put the new registration card they received in the mail into their glove compartment,” says Bateman. “Charging a busy mother a $150 fine because she forgot her purse while rushing to pick her kids up from soccer practice doesn’t make sense. Considering that virtually all patrol cars used by police have computers that are linked to MVC databases, it’s easy enough to verify if a driver is licensed and if a car is registered.”

Under the bill, judges would retain the ability to dismiss the charge of failing to produce a license or registration if the person could present the missing documents when summoned to answer the charge in municipal court. The judge would also retain the ability to impose court costs, even if the case is dismissed.

Bateman explains, “Licensed drivers have a responsibility to carry documents when they drive including their license, car registration and proof of insurance. By reducing fines in a common-sense way, we can make sure that people continue to follow the law without imposing a steep financial penalty on otherwise law-abiding citizens who simply were forgetful on a single occasion.”

The reduced fines would only apply to failure to present a driver’s license or vehicle registration, since that information in stored in a database that is accessible from most patrol cars. The fine for failure to provide proof of insurance would remain at $150 since insurance information is not stored in a way that can be easily verified electronically.

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