TRENTON — The Senate Transportation Committee today advanced a bill that would revise New Jersey’s unsafe driving penalties to allow motorists to pay higher fees to avoid receiving points on their driver’s licenses.
“This balanced measure clarifies unsafe driving statute to finally assure a consistent interpretation by practitioners, courts and the state Motor Vehicle Commission,” said state Sen. Christopher “Kip”Bateman (R-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset), who sponsored the bill. “It provides motorists with a limited opportunity to pay enhanced fees to avoid the imposition of penalty points on their driver’s licenses. These points often cause auto insurance rates to rise at a much higher cost than fines.”
Motorists convicted of violating current unsafe driving statute one or two times are subject to fines. Drivers convicted of a third offense within five years of a previous violation are subject to fines and penalty points.
“My bill clarifies that motorists will be eligible for points-forgiveness a maximum of two times in five years,” Bateman explained. “A driver would then be ineligible for this benefit for five years and would thereafter be ineligible for points-forgiveness during a five-year period from each subsequent offense. Any motorist who sought to utilize this statute during his or her period of ineligibility would be assessed four motor vehicle points.”
Bateman’s S-82 also increases the minimum fine on drivers with more than three unsafe driving offenses from $250 to $500.
Bateman first introduced this initiative in 2008, and it was unanimously passed by the full Senate in May 2009. Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) signed on as a sponsor last session, when it was also approved by the full Senate but died by Assembly inaction. The state Motor Vehicle Commission and the New Jersey Bar Association supported this bill last session.
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