TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner establishing a restricted driver’s license for certain motor vehicle offenders with suspended licenses advanced through the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today.
The bill (S-2622) will allow the Motor Vehicle Commission to issue a restricted use driver’s license endorsement for drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked for failure to pay motor vehicle surcharges or accumulation of motor vehicle penalty points, but only if they attend a driver improvement program. The endorsement would be issued in accordance with procedures established by the chief administrator of the MVC. A person who has been convicted of drunk driving or refusing to take a breathalyzer test is not eligible for an endorsement under the bill.
“Many people in our state are caught in a catch-22; they do not have the money to pay off their motor vehicle fees, so they cannot restore their licenses, but the lack of a license often strips them of their ability to get to and from work, which ultimately results in job loss. This can result in them going deeper in debt,” said Senator Turner.
Under the bill, if an individual is issued a restricted license, he or she would be allowed to operate a car exclusively to and from work, an educational institution, a mandated treatment program healthcare facility or a child care facility.
“This gives residents the necessary latitude to improve their circumstances. They can still drive to their jobs, enabling them to provide for their families and themselves,” added Senator Turner.
The bill would also establish some penalties for people who abuse their privilege. A driver would immediately be disqualified from their license, subject to a fine of at least $500 but not more than $1,000, 30 days of community service and an additional one year license suspension or revocation for driving outside the established restrictions. The senator noted that at least 39 other states offer this type of restricted driver’s license including New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut.
S-2622 cleared the committee with a vote of 3-2.