The penalties for driving with a suspended/revoked license in the State of New Jersey are set forth in N.J.S. 39:3-40. They include mandatory fines, an additional suspension of driving privileges, and even mandatory jail under certain circumstances, as well as for second and third offenders. In order to prove you guilty of driving while suspended/revoked in the State of New Jersey, the State must prove three things:
- That you were operating a vehicle at the time of the offense;
- That your driving privilege was suspended at the time of the offense; and
- That you had been provided "notice" that your driving privilege was suspended
The issue of "operation" is not as cut and dry as you may think. The definition of "operation" is very liberally construed in New Jersey. You do not necessarily need to be driving down the road in your car to be considered an operator. If you are simply sitting behind the wheel of the car with the key in the ignition in the "off" position under circumstances which demonstrate an intent to operate your vehicle, this may be sufficient.
The issue of whether your driving privilege was or was not suspended on the date of the offense, is usually not very complicated. The State will introduce into evidence your certified driver's abstract to prove that your license was, in fact, suspended on the date you were stopped. If it reflects that your license was not suspended, the State will probably be satisfied, and move to dismiss the charge before your trial even starts.
The issue of "notice" is usually the most complicated. Your license can be suspended for many reasons, but there are only two ways you can be notified of the suspension:
- By a judge, as a result of an in-court suspension (e.g. because of a DUI conviction); or
- By the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (e.g. due to failure to pay surcharges or too many points)