Driving While Suspended (N.J.S.A. 39:3-40) is one of the more punitive provisions of the motor vehicle code.
The monetary penalties are $500 for a first offense, $750 for a second and $1,000.00 for a third and subsequent offense. Each carries a potential further suspension of your motor vehicle privileges ("privileges") for up to an additional six months.
There is a mandatory jail term of one to five days for a second offense and ten days for a third offense. If you are driving and involved in an accident with bodily injury to another person, there is a mandatory jail term of 45 to 180 days. This means you could be sitting at a light, get rear ended by another driver who is hurt, and be required to go to jail by virtue of the suspension!
The basis of the suspension can enhance the penalties. If you are suspended for violation of Failing to Have Liability Insurance (N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2,) there would be an additional $500.00 fine, suspension for an additional one to two years and jail up to 90 days.
If you are suspended for Driving While Intoxicated ("DWI") or Refusal of Give a Breath Sample ("Refusal"), (N.J.S.A.39:4-50, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a respectively) there is an additional fine of $500, suspension for an additional one to two years and mandatory jail of 10 to 90 days.
If there is a second offense of Driving While Suspended during a period of suspension for a first offense DWI or Refusal, or a first offense of Driving While Suspended during a period of suspension for second offense DWI or Refusal, the defendant is subject to prosecution under a criminal statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26. This is a 4th degree indictable crime with a mandatory six months incarceration and a maximum 18 months in state prison.
My practice tip is DONT DRIVE WHILE SUSPENDED! If there are issues, talk to the Motor Vehicle Commission ("MVC") and get your privileges straightened out. If you are charged with Driving While Suspended, get your privileges restored. I find that prosecutors are more willing to amend a summons for Driving While Suspended favorable if privileges are restored. Additionally, if MVC sends a suspension notice for operating during a period of suspension, I find that sending them proof that you were cited for Driving While Suspended will cancel the suspension.
If you are charged with Driving While Suspended or any other serious motor vehicle charges you should consult with an experienced municipal court attorney. I can always be reached at 732 558 2019.
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