Drivers convicted of violating current unsafe driving statute one or two times would be subject to increased fines, but not points under a bill approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee. Under Senator Kip Bateman’s measure drivers convicted of a third offense within five years of a previous violation are subject to fines and penalty points.

(Flickr: Mikecogh)

“This balanced measure clarifies unsafe driving statute to finally assure a consistent interpretation by practitioners, courts and the state Motor Vehicle Commission,” says Bateman. “It provides motorists with a limited opportunity to pay enhanced fees to avoid the imposition of penalty points on their driver’s licenses. These points often cause auto insurance rates to rise at a much higher cost than fines.”

The bill increases the minimum fine on drivers with more than three unsafe driving offenses from $250 to $500. Bateman originally introduced the legislation in 2008, and it was unanimously passed by the full Senate in May 2009. Senator Nick Scutari signed on as a sponsor last session, when it was also approved by the full Senate but died in the Assembly. The state Motor Vehicle Commission and the New Jersey Bar Association supported this bill last session.

Bateman says, “My bill clarifies that motorists will be eligible for points-forgiveness a maximum of two times in five years. A driver would then be ineligible for this benefit for five years and would thereafter be ineligible for points-forgiveness during a five-year period from each subsequent offense. Any motorist who sought to utilize this statute during his or her period of ineligibility would be assessed four motor vehicle points.”