As of August 1, 2011, it is now a 4th degree crime, felony, or indictable offense, in New Jersey if you drive a motor vehicle while your license is suspended due to two or more convictions for DWI, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, or if you drive while your license is suspended due to one DWI conviction and you have been previously convicted for Driving While Suspended pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.
The criminal penalties for fourth degree crimes in NJ are up to 18 months in prison and $1,000 in fines. Most first time criminal offenders in New Jersey will apply to and qualify for a diversion of their prosecution through the PTI program, or pretrial intervention. With PTI, the defendant’s charges are dismissed should they successfully complete the program’s standard conditions during a set period of probation monitoring.
Sounds good, right? No, it gets worse for the new NJ crime for driving while suspended. Under NJSA 2C:40-26, the New Jersey Legislature mandated that a defendant must be sentenced to a period of incarceration of at least 6 months and up to 18 months. This means under the current law, there is no PTI for people convicted for Driving While Suspended due to a DWI conviction. And at least 6 months in jail is mandatory!
If you have been charged with NJSA 2C:40-26 or NJSA 39:3-40, it is imperative that you retain an experienced attorney immediately, one who can fully understand NJMVC certified driving abstracts. I have seen these cases where the county prosecutor’s office may be willing to remand the matter back to municipal court where the jail aspect of the sentence may be avoided through non-custodial measures.
If you have been charged with driving while your license in suspended in NJ, please call the Law Offices of Thomas Carroll Blauvelt, LLC. Attorney Thomas Carroll Blauvelt is a former municipal prosecutor who represents people charged with DWI suspension issues in all New Jersey superior and municipal courts. I am available 24/7 to personally answer all your questions in connection with your DUI, criminal arrest, juvenile complaint, or NJ DMV license suspension hearing matters.
The text of the new N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26 statute is set forth below:
■1. a. It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40, if the actor’s license was suspended or revoked for a first violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and the actor had previously been convicted of violating R.S.39:3-40 while under suspension for that first offense. A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment. b.It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40, if the actor’s license was suspended or revoked for a second or subsequent violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a). A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment. c.Notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided under N.J.S.2C:43-6 and the provisions of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:44-1, if a person is convicted of a crime under this section the sentence imposed shall include a fixed minimum sentence of not less than 180 days during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole. L.2009, c.333, s.1.