How to lose your New Jersey Driver License without committing a DWI

Alfonso Gambone
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Alfonso Gambone is a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney dedicated to protecting your rights.

How to lose your New Jersey Driver LicenseUnlike Pennsylvania, the Garden State doesn’t have a drunk driving diversion program (aka Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Programs (ARD)). Further, New Jersey’s Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) statute, unlike our Commonwealth’s Driving Under the Influence (DUI), requires a license suspension for any DWI conviction. N.J.S.A 39:4-50. In Pennsylvania a person won’t lose their driver licenses following a first time DUI conviction under Title 75, section 3802(a)(1) (general impairment), provided that there was no accident or section 3802(a)(2) (BAC .08 -.10). New Jersey will, however, will suspend a license for any first time drunk driving conviction for at least 3 months and as much as 7 months depending on someone’s BAC. (.08 – .10 – 3 month, over .10, 7 month suspension for first time offenders

Drunk driving isn’t the only way to lose a driver license in New Jersey. There are a variety of traffic offenses that impose points against a license. New Jersey will administratively suspend any person’s driver license if he or she accumulates more than 12 traffic points in one year or 15 points within 2 years. Most people believe that 12 points in one year or even 15 points in 2 years is nearly impossible because even something like reckless driving carries 5 traffic points. With that said, however, a driver can easily rack up a substantial amount of points in just one bad moving violation incident. Remember, traffic offenses aren’t mutually exclusive and you can violate multiple sections of the New Jersey traffic code in one incident.

For example, if you’re speeding at 15-29 MPH over the limit, you could get a speeding ticket that carries 4 points and the officer could issue you reckless driving ticket that carries 5 points. The police officer could also issue a careless driving ticket that carries 2 points –a total of 11 points from just one incident! Even if you incurred a subsequent minor moving violation in that same year like the Failure to Keep Right (2 points) or the Failure to Properly Stop at a Cross Walk (2 points), you would lose your license for a minimum of 30 days and as many as 180 days! Keep in mind that a New Jersey Municipal Court Judge could also suspend your driver license for 90 days just for the reckless driving charge alone!

You could receive all of these above traffic violations in addition to a DWI; the suspensions would not run concurrently (at the same time. See 39:5-30.4). If you were arrested for even a first time DWI and committed the above traffic offenses you could your lose license for 10 months and as many as 14 months if you didn’t have the proper criminal defense representation when you walked into court.

In addition to the accumulation of traffic points, a New Jersey criminal court can suspend your driver license for 6 months, if you are convicted of any drug offense including but not limited to possession, distribution and conspiracy to possess, distribute or manufacture any controlled substance, narcotic, or drug under the State’s The Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987. N.J.S: 2C:35-1 et al.   This is similar to Pennsylvania’s law pertaining to drug convictions and license suspensions. Again, such a suspension would be consecutive (one after the other) to any other suspension for DWI, or the accumulation of traffic points. A New Jersey Judge, however, isn’t required to suspend your driver license if the suspension will result in an extreme hardship and alternative means of transportation aren’t available. See 2C:35-16. This is a critical point for your lawyer to argue in court.

In closing driving is privilege and not a right in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. As always, I encourage you to visit my free download section for more great criminal defense tips.   Here is a list of the most common traffic offenses in New Jersey and the points associated with them:

NJSA
Section
Offense Points  
 
New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway  
27:23–29 Moving against traffic 2  
27:23–29 Improper passing 4  
27:23–29 Unlawful use of median strip 2  
All roads and highways  
39:3–20 Operating constructor vehicle in excess of 45 mph 3  
39:4–14.3 Operating motorized bicycle on a restricted highway 2  
39:4–14.3d More than one person on a motorized bicycle 2  
39:4–35 Failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk 2  
39:4–36 Failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk; passing a vehicle yielding to pedestrian in crosswalk 2  
39:4– 41 Driving through safety zone 2  
39:4–52 Racing on highway 5  
39:4–55 Improper action or omission on grades and curves 2  
39:4–57 Failure to observe direction of officer 2  
39:4–66 Failure to stop vehicle before crossing sidewalk 2  
39:4–66.1 Failure to yield to pedestrians or vehicles while entering or leaving highway 2  
39:4–66.2 Driving on public or private property to avoid a traffic sign or signal 2  
39:4–71 Operating a motor vehicle on a sidewalk 2  
39:4–80 Failure to obey direction of officer 2  
39:4–81 Failure to observe traffic signals* (Red Light Camera- 0 pts.) 2  
  *No points assessed for red light camera violation 0  
39:4–82 Failure to keep right 2  
39:4–82.1 Improper operating of vehicle on divided highway or divider 2  
39:4–83 Failure to keep right at intersection 2  
39:4–84 Failure to pass to right of vehicle proceeding in opposite direction 5  
39:4–85 Improper passing on right or off roadway 4  
39:4–85.1 Wrong way on a one-way street 2  
39:4–86 Improper passing in no passing zone 4  
39:4–87 Failure to yield to overtaking vehicle 2  
39:4–88 Failure to observe traffic lanes 2  
39:4–89 Tailgating 5  
39:4–90 Failure to yield at intersection 2  
39:4–90.1 Failure to use proper entrances to limited access highways 2  
39:4–91–92 Failure to yield to emergency vehicles 2  
39:4–96 Reckless driving 5  
39:4–97 Careless driving 2  
39:4–97a Destruction of agricultural or recreational property 2  
39:4–97.1 Slow speed blocking traffic 2  
39:4–97.2 Driving in an unsafe manner (points only for third or subsequent offense within five years of most recent 39:4-97.2 conviction) 4  
39:4–98 Exceeding maximum speed 1-14 mph over limit 2  
  Exceeding maximum speed 15-29 mph over limit 4  
  Exceeding maximum speed 30 mph or more over limit 5  
39:4–105 Failure to stop for traffic light 2  
39:4–115 Improper turn at traffic light 3  
39:4–119 Failure to stop at flashing red signal 2  
39:4–122 Failure to stop for police whistle 2  
39:4–123 Improper right or left turn 3  
39:4–124 Improper turn from approved turning course 3  
39:4–125 Improper u-turn 3  
39:4–126 Failure to give proper signal 2  
39:4–127 Improper backing or turning in street 2  
39:4–127.1 Improper crossing of railroad grade crossing 2  
39:4–127.2 Improper crossing of bridge 2  
39:4–128 Improper crossing of railroad grade crossing by certain vehicles 2  
39:4–128.1 Improper passing of school bus 5  
39:4–128.4 Improper passing of frozen dessert truck 4  
39:4–129 Leaving the scene of an accident –
no personal injury
2  
Personal injury 8  
39:4–144 Failure to observe stop or yield signs 2  
39:5C–1 Racing on highway 5  
39:5D–4 Moving violation committed out-of-state 2