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Rice, Cunningham Bill to Allow People to Perform Community Service Instead of Paying Vehicle Surcharges Passes Committee

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald Rice and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, which would establish a program to allow people to perform community service instead of paying motor vehicle surcharges, passed the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.


“There are many people around the state who are unable to afford paying additional surcharges for their driver’s licenses. We should not punish people for being unable to afford these costs because it over-encumbers the financial stability of working families around the state, especially if they then lose their license and can no longer drive to work,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “We should be giving a constructive solution and giving people the option of performing community service instead. This alternative option will have the most positive impact in local communities, while getting licenses back to the people who need them most.”


“The license suspension that comes with unpaid motor vehicles fines hinders individuals ability to go to work, take their children to school and earn the money they need to pay back their fines,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “By allowing people to perform community service in place of monetary payment and reinstating their licenses once they start service, we are both recognizing the legitimacy of their inability to pay and respecting the necessity of driving. Legislation to remove MVC fines entirely has been signed into law, however, this bill would create a pathway for those struggling to pay back their fines until it goes into effect.”


The bill, S-914, would establish a “Motor Vehicle Surcharge Community Service Program”. The program would allow people who are unemployed or unable to pay the fees to perform community service instead of paying motor vehicle surcharges. The bill would require the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development and the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to waive motor vehicle surcharges imposed on applicants who meet the above criteria and complete a community service project in participating counties and municipalities.


Under the bill, if an applicant’s driving privileges have been suspended for failure to pay surcharges, the Chief Administrator of the MVC would be required to reinstate those privileges when the applicant commences the community services program. If the applicant fails to complete the program, his or her total outstanding surcharges and any accrued interest would become immediately due.  In addition, the applicant’s driving privilege would again be suspended until the applicant satisfies the outstanding surcharge assessment. If the program were successfully completed, the bill would require the Chief Administrator of the MVC to waive all surcharges and interest levied for accumulated motor vehicle points and those levied for violations that do not require points.


The bill was released from committee by a vote 6-0.