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Suspended License

Driving While Suspended in the Fourth Degree: Don’t Do It! Six Months in Jail and One Year Loss of License

New Jersey law enforcement and courts are weary of dealing with the aftermath of drivers operating vehicles while intoxicated: injuries and death, property loss, ruined vehicles, ruined lives.

Because of that, the courts are particularly harsh when it comes to offenses having anything to do with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). As of August 1, 2011 and according to N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26 - aka “Operating Motor Vehicle During Period of License Suspension” - if your license is suspended for DWI or Refusal (see below) and you are caught Driving While Suspended (DWS) twice, the penalty is a one year license suspension and no less than 180 days in jail - with no possibility of parole.

And also fines as much as $1250.

You read that right: six months in jail if convicted for driving with a suspended license in the fourth degree: Which means you were convicted of a DWI and then caught Driving While Suspended (DWS) twice after that conviction.

So don’t do it. But if you do, and are arrested, it is essential that the first person you talk to is Monmouth County license suspension attorney Tara Breslow-Testa.

As an attorney with experience on both sides of the bench, Tara Breslow-Testa understands why the courts deal so harshly with DWI offenses. Ms. Breslow-Testa understands how the courts operate and judges think, and she can work the system in your favor to reduce or eliminate jail time, and also the length of the loss of driving privilege. Call Tara Breslow-Testa at (732) 784-2880

How to Have Your License Suspended

The initial suspension of a New Jersey driver’s license can happen for a number of reasons:

  • Causing a fatal traffic accident
  • Refusal: Refusing a chemical test for DUI/DWI
  • A conviction for driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol: Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08% or greater.
  • A conviction for reckless driving: “...driving a vehicle in a willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, in a manner so as to endanger, or likely to endanger, a person or property.”
  • Failure to Appear (FTA) in court to pay fines or Failure to Pay (FTP) court fines.
  • Failure to provide proof of insurance.
  • A conviction for driving with a suspended license.
  • Losing driving privileges due to a mental or physical condition.
  • Abandoning vehicles on a public highway.

The fine for the first offense of DWS is a fine of $500 with a mandatory surcharge of $250.00 a year for three years by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Driving With a Suspended License

If your license is suspended for any of the above reasons - other than DWI - and you are convicted of multiple DWS, these are the penalties under New Jersey Statutes 39:3-40

First offense: A $500 fine and suspension of driver’s license not to exceed six months.

Second offense: A $750 fine and suspension of driver’s license not to exceed six months and a jail term of not more than five days.

Third or subsequent offenses: A $1000 fine and suspension of driver’s license not to exceed six months and a jail term of not more than 10 days.

And if you cause an accident resulting in personal injury to another person while DWS, there is a mandatory jail term of not less than 45 days.

DWS After a DWI: Do it Twice and it’s not so Nice

Being accused and convicted of driving with a suspended license in the fourth degree requires a high degree of careless irresponsibility on the part of the accused - which is why the courts deal with it harshly.

According to NJSA 2C:40-2 - also known as - “Elements to Charge a Driver with Driving While Suspended as a Fourth Degree Crime.” If your license is suspended for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Refusal and you are caught operating a vehicle the police will write you a Driving While Suspended (DWS) ticket.

Trouble really comes if you are caught for a second DWS violation after a DWI conviction. Then the courts have had enough of your scofflaw shenanigans and will throw the book at you.

As stated in N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(a) – “However, if the driver proceeds to receive a second or subsequent DWS violation on the same DWI or Refusal suspension period, the driver will be subject to the much harsher punishments of the indictable driving while suspended as a fourth degree crime. The term of imprisonment will be set at 180 days with no parole eligibility. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, the driver’s license will also be suspended for an additional period of a minimum 12 months and a day, to 30 months maximum. This suspension will typically run consecutive to the DWI suspension term already in effect, meaning that the new suspension won’t begin until the previous suspension is over. In addition, fines for driving while suspended as a fourth degree crime will likely be assessed, which can total over $1250.”

Better Call Tara

You don’t want that. No one wants that. The courts definitely don’t want it, which is why they deal with this fourth degree offense with great vengeance and furious anger: six months in jail is no picnic and a severe life disruption.

You need your driver’s license to work and survive. The jails are already crowded. Judges and the courts know this and they are prepared to be lenient, to work with the accused and their attorneys to come to some middle ground - where the accused agrees to behave under the law, the courts don’t take away their license for a year, throw them in jail for six months and fine them.

It’s Complicated

The laws for Driving While Intoxicated and Driving While Suspended are a labyrinth.

For example: What if you received an out of state conviction for DWI and are convicted in New Jersey for DWS?

Monmouth County license suspension attorney Tara Breslow-Testa has negotiated this labyrinth many times, and understands how the courts think and function. You want her by your side when facing six months in jail and a one-year suspension of your license.

Call Tara Breslow-Testa at (732) 784-2880