Senate President Proposes Penalties for Future Violaters of NJ/NY Compact
TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) today called on the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to explain how a Long Island man, who seriously injured a Nassau County police officer while driving under the influence, was able to obtain a license in New Jersey despite having a suspended New York driver’s license.
“We have the who, what, when and where. Now we need the why,” stated Sen. Codey. “Why was this man able to get a New Jersey driver’s license when we have laws in place that clearly prohibit him from doing so? Was it a failure of the system or was it negligence? We need answers now so that this doesn’t happen again in the future.”
According to police reports, the man in question “beat the system” by dropping the middle initial in his name and applying for a license undetected by the New Jersey MVC. New York and New Jersey presently have a mutual agreement that prevents either state from issuing a license to anyone who has a suspended license in the other state. However, the agreement does not carry a penalty for violators.
In light of this, Codey today proposed a new law that would create penalties for those who attempt to get a license in New Jersey if their licenses are presently suspended in another state.
“Not only do we need to tighten up protocol on the government end, but we need to deter other people from attempting the same thing. If there’s no penalty, what’s to prevent anyone from trying to get another license while they have a suspension? If they can get a license, they can get insurance and registration and that puts them right back out on the road where they might be a danger to others.”
Codey said he is having a bill drafted that could make it an offense with penalties if someone attempts to get a license in New Jersey while they have a suspended license in another state.
“This incident is even more alarming when you consider the increased security measures that were put into place after 9/11. How was this still able to occur? These are some of the things we need answers to in order to make sure it never happens again.”
In a letter sent to MVC Chief Administrator Sharon Harrington today, Codey requested that an investigation into the matter take place and that the findings be reported back to the legislature.
A full copy of the letter is included below:
May 21, 2008
Ms. Sharon Harrington, Chief Administrator
NJ Motor Vehicle Commission
P.O. Box 160
Trenton, NJ 08666
Dear Ms. Harrington:
I’m deeply troubled by the news reports this week of a Long Island man who was able to obtain a license in New Jersey despite having a suspended New York license and then went on to seriously injure a Nassau County police officer while driving under the influence.
We’re both well aware that New Jersey and New York have an interstate compact that prevents either from issuing a license to someone who has a suspension in the other state. Consequently, this begs the important question of how this man was able to circumvent the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and obtain a license simply by not using his middle initial? Given the increased security measures that have been put in place since 9/11, this matter is even more disturbing.
At this time, I am requesting that your office investigate the matter and report back to the legislature with details as to how this was able to occur and what can be done in the future to prevent any similar occurrences. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.
Richard J. Codey