New Jersey city yanks licenses then rescinds order

| Thursday, September 26, 2002

More than 100,000 drivers in Newark, NJ, received a surprise in their mail over the weekend as the Newark Municipal Court started sending out notices informing scofflaws that their licenses had been suspended because they failed to pay traffic and parking tickets. The unpaid fines amount to more than $3 million.

The response to the notices was overwhelming. Several offices of the Division of Motor Vehicles were jammed with motorists on Monday trying to get their licenses reinstated. The process apparently is a long one. To reinstate a license suspended by a court for failure to pay fines, a driver must pay the fines, secure proof of payment, and then proceed to one of DMV's four regional service centers to pay a $100 fee.

The notices caused such a predicament that late Tuesday Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox won an agreement from the court to put suspensions already handed down on hold until the validity of the notices can be determined.

In a prepared statement, Fox said Newark officials would rescind the suspensions and hold off on issuing any more until the validity of the tickets is determined. He said those drivers who received suspension notices can legally return to the road but should work with Newark officials to resolve their claims.

The city claims the suspensions are proper, but the Trenton-Times reported this may not be the case for past due parking tickets. The state Supreme Court has held that parking tickets older than three years are no longer valid.

The DOT estimates that 37,000 drivers have received suspension notices since last week, and about 500 have paid reinstatement fees at the Wayne regional service center, totaling more than $91,000. A DMV spokesman said these payments would be refunded.

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