Depending on the nature of the case, a court can suspend a defendant’s license or even sentence him or her to jail for what would otherwise be a minor offense, such as Careless Driving.
On September 30, 2014, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State v. Palma. In that case, the defendant pled guilty to a Careless Driving charge that was the result of an incident involving a fatality.
The trial judge sentenced the defendant to 15 days in jail. However, the Supreme Court ruled in that the State v. Moran factors should apply to the offense of Careless Driving.
These factors are:
1) The nature and circumstances of the defendant’s conduct, including whether the conduct posed a high risk of danger to the public or caused physical harm or property damage;
2) The defendant’s driving record, including the defendant’s age and length of time as a licensed driver, and the number, seriousness, and frequency of prior infractions;
3) Whether the defendant was infraction-free for a substantial period before the most recent violation or whether the nature and extent of the defendant’s driving record indicates that there is a substantial risk that he or she will commit another violation;
4) Whether the character and attitude of the defendant indicate that he or she is likely or unlikely to commit another violation;
5) Whether the defendant’s conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur;
6) Whether a license suspension would cause excessive hardship to the defendant and/or dependents; and
7) The need for personal deterrence.