NJ amnesty bill: Time running out on effort to collect driver penalty fees

| 11/19/2009

With a little less than two months remaining in the legislative session, time is running out for a measure in the New Jersey statehouse that is intended to help generate much-needed revenue for the state. The bill would look the other way on interest and surcharges for those caught driving without a license or insurance.

Sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, the bill would offer a 60-day grace period for drivers with outstanding motor vehicle surcharges who could pay those surcharges without facing interest or collection costs. Anyone who doesn’t participate in the program would be charged an additional 5 percent penalty.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill aimed at drivers ticketed for driving without insurance or a valid license, or those with at least six surcharge points for moving violations. The bill has since moved to the Assembly for further consideration.

Drivers would pay $150 in surcharges for the first six points and $25 for every additional point.

According to the state Motor Vehicle Commission, the proposed amnesty program could generate $17 million in uncollected funds to the state. Drivers owe the state $538 million in uncollected surcharges.

“There are millions of dollars in uncollected motor vehicle surcharges out there right now, and it’s time New Jersey offers drivers a break in order to collect some of that money,” Turner said in a written statement.

Drivers convicted of driving under the influence would not be eligible to take advantage of the amnesty period.

S2903 has sat in the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee since late June. All legislation must be approved by both chambers prior to the end of the regular session, which is scheduled for early January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.