Bill would boost penalties for unlicensed drivers
Currently in New Jersey the penalties for getting caught while driving without a license for those who have never had driving privileges are more lenient than the penalties for someone cited for driving with a suspended license. Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Brick) doesn't believe such penalties make sense, so he's co-sponsoring a bill (A-3740) to address it.
"I think what's happened over the years is the penalties for driving while suspended have been amended over the years because they weren't stopping people from doing their bad habits, but unfortunately we never went back and looked at this statute to amend it in accordance with the driving while suspended statute," McGuckin said.
The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Brick) would increase the penalties for a person who drives a vehicle without ever having been licensed to drive in New Jersey or in any other jurisdiction. Under the measure, it would be a $500 fine for the first offense, a $750 fine and at least one day, but not more than five days in jail for the second offense, and a $1,000 fine and 10 days imprisonment for a third or subsequent offense.
"For some people who've never had a license, they just pay the fine. It's a cost of driving. It's cheaper for them to do that than go through the process, get a license and being suspended," McGuckin explained.
The bill also imposes the penalty of up to 180 days in prison if, while operating a motor vehicle, a person who has never been licensed is involved in a motor vehicle accident causing bodily injury to another person.
"This is happening in New Jersey," McGuckin said. "I serve as a municipal prosecutor and I've seen individuals come through with second, third offense for without a license, and they've never been licensed. They pay a fine, they go outside and often times they drive away for all I know. So you realize that every year or two it's cheaper for them to take the risk of getting caught, versus getting a license and risk driving while suspended."
The penalties in this bill are exactly the same as those imposed for driving with a suspended or revoked license or when a person has been prohibited from obtaining a driver's license.