When you lose your driver’s license, you lose more than a simple identification card that authorizes you to drive; you lose the freedom that comes with driving.
The freedom to go where you want, when you want; to go to work, shop, pick up the dry cleaning, coach your kid’s soccer team and every other thing you take for granted as you go about your daily activities.
All of which adds insult to the injury you suffered when your license got suspended in the first place. If you believe you are eligible to get your license back, the following is a guide for NJ license restoration.
The Factors that Come Into Play
Not everyone knows that the procedure to follow for NJ license restoration depends on the reason for your license suspension.
In New Jersey, your license to drive can be suspended for the following reasons:
- An accumulation of at least 12 points on your record.
- Failure to appear in court/pay court fines related to Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) matters.
- Failure to pay state-imposed surcharges.
- Failure to provide proof of automobile insurance to a law enforcement officer on demand.
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer examination.
- Reckless driving.
- A ruling by a court that you were responsible for a traffic-related fatality.
- Abandonment of your vehicle on a public highway or road.
- Criminal or juvenile justice code violations.
- If, after submitting to a reexamination to determine fitness to drive by the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission the results support a finding that you were indeed physically or psychologically unfit.
- Failure to pay child support.
In addition, extended license suspensions and even jail time may be imposed for anyone who receives multiple suspensions or who drives while under a license suspension.
3 suspensions in a 3-year-period will result in a suspension of up to 3 years. Driving while under suspension can lead to a jail term. Unlike some other states, there are no exceptions under New Jersey law that permit an individual to drive while under suspension. In other words, there is no “drive to work” license.
Although permissible to apply for NJ license restoration on your own, it is highly recommended that you retain the services of an attorney experienced in such matters.
The process can be complicated and, depending on the reason for your suspension, may even pose risks if the restoration is incorrectly or incompletely pursued.
1. If you are not sure exactly why your license was suspended or believe it may be for more than one reason, you need to confirm the reason(s) for suspension prior to commencing the NJ license restoration process.
The simplest way to find out is to contact the Motor Vehicle Commission. Someone there will be able to advise why your license was suspended.
They will also be able to tell you how long you must wait before you can apply for your license to be restored.
2. If the suspension was court-ordered (rather than by order of the MVC), the MVC will also be able to inform you which court issued the suspension and all of the information you will need to proceed with the NJ license restoration process.
3. Obtain a copy of your driver’s abstract from the MVC. This can be ordered online or through the mail for a small fee.
If your suspension was only imposed by the MVC:
You must satisfy all fines, surcharges and other conditions that the MVC requires you meet before your license will be restored.
This is why you should take the preliminary step of determining the exact reason or reasons for suspension.
If, for example, your license was suspended for failure to provide proof of insurance upon demand, you will need to show the MVC proof that you do, in fact, have valid auto insurance. If you have outstanding traffic tickets, you will need to submit proof of ticket payment to the MVC.
Any other fines, surcharges or outstanding debts must be fully paid before you can begin the NJ license restoration process.
If your suspension was based on the accumulation of more than 12 points in two years on your driving record and you were allowed to take a Driver Improvement Program (known as a Point and Insurance Reduction Course) instead of being given a 30 day suspension, proof of successful completion must be provided and 3 points will be removed from your record.
Once you have satisfactorily taken care of all financial obligations imposed by the MVC, you must pay a restoration fee of $100.
This can be done online (a credit card “convenience” fee will be added), in person at any MVC location that offers walk-in service or by sending a check or money order to:
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
P.O. Box 140
Trenton, NJ 08650-0140
If your suspension was court-ordered:
The NJ license restoration process can become particularly tricky if your license was suspended by a traffic court, family court or even criminal court. You will need to obtain the relevant court records and ensure that there are no other matters pending before the court.
There may be unpaid fines, for example. Or perhaps an arrest warrant has issued for failure to appear, pay unpaid tickets, fines or child support.
This often comes as a surprise to people. Imagine how much bigger the surprise will be if you weren’t aware of the arrest warrant until you actually appeared before a court only to be arrested (another reason hiring a lawyer qualified to handle NJ license restoration matters is such a good idea).
If your license was suspended for failure to pay child support, you will most likely be required to clear any arrears or set up a payment schedule before your license can be restored.
Proceed with application for a standard license renewal.
If it has been more than 3 years since you last drove, you will probably be required to take the written and/or road test.
Check with the MVC to determine whether there are any other fees you must pay.
Again, be sure that all court-ordered and MVC-imposed conditions have been met. You will need to have documentary evidence that no matters remain outstanding and that you are eligible for a NJ license restoration.
An aside: If your license was suspended due to a DUI/DWI, you will need to provide proof that you have completed an Intoxicated Driver Program (known as IDP) at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). If treatment has been deemed necessary, you will need to participate in a program for at least 16 weeks.
Once you have successfully completed the NJ license restoration process and your license has been reissued to you, you will be placed on mandatory probation for one year. Failure to complete this probationary period without incurring additional violations may lead to another license suspension.
If the time has come for you to look into a NJ license restoration, it is strongly suggested that you seek the advice of an attorney experienced in handling such matters. After all, isn’t it time you regained some more freedom in your life?