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.
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.
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.
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are no longer valid.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.