Here's what the New Jersey lawyers at the firm of Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio and Smith have to say about driving with a suspended license: "Don't drive under a license suspension. Ever. Under any circumstances." There's plenty of truth behind their typically Jersey-style frankness, as driving with a suspended license in the Garden State can net you a first-time fine of $500 and a suspension extension of six months. To make sure you aren't taking any chances, you've got plenty of ways to check up on your NJ license status.
Revocation and Notice
A number of strikes can get your license suspended in the state of New Jersey, including:
- Racking up 12 or more points on your driving record
- Failing to appear in court or failing to pay court fines
- Failing to pay traffic tickets or fines
- Driving without insurance
- Driving recklessly or under the influence
- Abandoning your vehicle
- Being found at fault in a fatal accident
Before you license is suspended, you will receive a written notice from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission by way of snail mail. If this very important piece of mail somehow slips by you – maybe the MVC has an old address on file – there are a few other ways to check on your status.
Checking Your NJ License Status
Without a letter in hand, you may still wonder, "is my license suspended in NJ?" If so, pick up the phone for the most immediate answer.
Give the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission a call at 609-292-6500 or 1-888-486-3339. Once you get someone on the line, ask for your driver history abstract. This record contains all of the information the MVC has compiled pertaining to your driver's license, including whether it's suspended and reasons for any possible suspension. The MVC staff person can also tell you how long the suspension will be in effect, the amount of any surcharges owed to the MVC, if you need to complete any MVC driver's ed programs, which courts to contact to pay outstanding fines and even if you owe child support (another possible reason for license suspension in NJ).
Alternatively, you can hit up the MVC in Eatontown, Trenton, Wayne or West Deptford to request your abstract in person, or purchase a copy online the MVC's official Driver History Abstract site. You can also send a copy of an Abstract Request Form, Form DO-21, by mail. No matter what route you take to get there, a copy of the abstract will cost you $15.
Lifting the Suspension
In some cases, restoring your license may be as easy as paying the $100 restoration fee to the MVC. In others, you'll have to take the case to court.
If you're ready to get that NJ license suspension lifted, retaining a lawyer is not a bad idea. Your representation will send a certified letter to the Motor Vehicle Commission stating that the proposed suspension is not accepted and requesting a hearing. Typically, this will stay the suspension, allowing you to drive until the hearing occurs. At the hearing, your attorney will attempt to reduce the suspension, or you can elevate the case to a hearing with an administrative law judge.
In addition to getting paid up on MVC surcharges, traffic fines, child support or outstanding court fines, the MVC may require you to take a defensive driving Course or to complete an Intoxicated Driving Resource Center program before removing the suspension. When your license is active once again, you'll receive a notice of restoration in the mail – won't it feel good to come full circle?
- If your license is suspended, you may be eligible for a conditional license to drive to and from work.
- If you drive with a suspended license, you are liable for further suspension of up to two years and fines of up to $4,000.
As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.