Appellate Division of New Jersey Clarifies 2C:40-26

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The Appellate Division of New Jersey ruled on State v. Perry on March 3, 2015. The Court ruled that 2C:40-26 does not apply to defendants who have served a period of license suspension for DWI, but have not yet restored their license.

2C:40-26 reads:

1. a. It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40, if the actors license was suspended or revoked for a first violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and the actor had previously been convicted of violating R.S.39:3-40 while under suspension for that first offense. A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment.

b. It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40, if the actors license was suspended or revoked for a second or subsequent violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a). A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment.

c. Notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided under N.J.S.2C:43-6 and the provisions of subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:44-1, if a person is convicted of a crime under this section the sentence imposed shall include a fixed minimum sentence of not less than 180 days during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.

When a defendant is found guilty of DWI, the municipal court issues a certain period of license suspension. When this period is over, the license is not technically restored until the individual pays the restoration fee with the Motor Vehicle Commission.

Thankfully, the Appellate Division clarified the law, so that people who are ticked during the period after their court ordered suspension, but before they pay their restoration fee no longer face liability for a fourth degree crime.