In the final hours of the two-year legislative session in New Jersey that wrapped up Jan. 7, the Assembly approved a legislative package that would make it easier for drivers in the state with suspended licenses to keep their driving privileges. One bill would help truckers stay on the road.
The legislative package now heads to Gov. Jon Corzine’s desk. The Senate previously approved the bills.
Sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, the bills stem from a report issued more than a year ago that said suspending licenses creates unintended consequences, such as job loss and difficulty in finding employment, the Asbury Park Press reported.
“In New Jersey, driving is a necessity, not a luxury. For many … the loss of their driver’s license can equate with the loss of their job and their ability to support their families,” Turner said in a written statement.
As part of the legislative package, one bill – S2326 – would reduce the severity of license suspensions for certain people. It would give judges or the Motor Vehicle Commission the option to suspend a vehicle registration rather than the driver’s license. The provision would allow such people as employees of construction services and people with jobs that require a valid driver’s license to continue to work but only drive vehicles registered by their employers.
“For those individuals whose livelihood comes from sitting behind the wheel of a company-owned car or truck, this is a crucial change. It penalizes the driver by taking away personal driving privileges but still allows them to go about their daily work,” Turner explained.
A second bill to reduce the severity of license suspensions for certain people, however, failed to advance to the governor’s desk. The measure – S2328 – sought to lower the mandatory suspension of driving without liability insurance from one year to a period of two to 12 months. It also would have allowed the court to take into consideration whether the owner acquired liability insurance coverage prior to conviction.
Two more bills – S2331 and S2332 – that were moved to Corzine’s office would allow the courts and the commission to create a payment plan to pay off fines and replace small fines with community service.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor