Says Current Rules Make No Sense, Deny Individuals an Opportunity to Earn a Paycheck
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would allow for the waiver of license suspension or revocation for an individual who is behind on child support payments was unanimously approved by the Assembly today, receiving final legislative approval.
“While I believe that parents will always have a responsibility to support their kids, this bill recognizes the realities of life in working-class New Jersey, in which folks have to have a reliable mode of transportation and a valid driver’s license to maintain their employment,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Under current law, we use the threat of license revocation as a means to encourage parents to stay on track with their court-ordered child support payments, but we need to realize that without a license, most folks can’t keep a job and make their child support payments to begin with. This is a practical approach to allow parents to live up to their responsibilities.”
The bill, S-1531, would change the existing law authorizing the suspension and revocation of drivers’ licenses for individuals who are delinquent in child support payments to allow people to maintain their driving privileges in certain situations. Under the bill, the court and the Probation Division of the Department of Corrections would have greater discretion to defer or terminate a license suspension if an individual makes arrangements to pay the amount past due on an accelerated schedule and makes a significant up-front payment.
The measure also would clarify that when an individual has been denied a driver’s license because of child support delinquency, the licensing authority may grant a license if the person provides documentation from the Probation Division certifying that he or she is complying with payment arrangements. An individual could also apply to the court for an order to authorize the issuance of a license for employment purposes when employment is necessary to comply with the terms of a child support order. If an individual subsequently fails to comply with their payment plan, the licensing authority would be able to immediately suspend the license upon notification from the Probation Division of default.
“When it comes down to it, we simply do not have the mass transportation infrastructure in New Jersey to allow people to get around without a car,” said Senator Rice. “As a result, a driver’s license is often a prerequisite to earn a living for yourself and your family. It does not make sense to reduce a person’s earning potential, when the ultimate goal is to get them making their child support payments in a timely fashion.”
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.