Under state law, if a driver gets a parking ticket and doesn't pay the fine, their driver’s license may be suspended and they could owe more than $1,000. Even if it was an honest mistake.

One lawmaker wants to change that.

“It isn’t fair and it just doesn’t make sense,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukerji, D-Hudson

According to the Office of the New Jersey Courts, when a parking ticket is issued, you have to either pay it or plead not guilty by a certain date.

If neither of those things happen, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is notified, registration information is provided and the court can then issue a failure to appear notice to the offender, who is given a $10 penalty (in addition to what they owe for the ticket). A new date is set for payment or for the individual to plead not guilty.

If that date passes, a notice of proposed suspension is sent to the defendant notifying them if they don’t pay by a new specified date, along with an additional $18 fine, their license will be suspended.

If there is still no response from the defendant, a judge may suspend the individual’s driver’s license. This information is entered into a computer system by the court administrator, and a notice is mailed to the defendant informing them they no longer have driving privileges.

Mukerji said once this happens, the individual may have their license reinstated by paying a $100 fine.

“But what many people don’t realize is when you plead guilty you also incur a $250 administrative surcharge each year for three consecutive years," he said.

“You could be paying a $750 surcharge plus the $100 fine, plus court costs, plus whatever parking tickets you owed.”

He said some people wind up not paying a ticket because it blows off their windshield or they’re having money issues or they just lose the summons.

He said that “is just going to get them in greater trouble, and result in a very long-term suspension of their license and then they can’t make it to work. The whole thing just seems kind of ridiculous."

His legislation would take away the surcharge. People pleading guilty would just pay the $100 fine.

He said as a part-time municipal prosecutor in Carteret, he’s seen many situations where people don’t even realize they had an unpaid parking ticket.

“They come to court, they want to pay their tickets, they want to do the right thing, they weren’t aware their license was suspended, they get incurred with a surcharge that could be 20 times what they would have paid for the parking ticket.”

During the last legislative session, Mukerji says he sponsored legislation that requires motorists to get an additional warning notice mailed to them spelling out that they are about to have their license suspended.

On Thursday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Mukerji’s bill. It now heads to the full Assembly for a vote.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com


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