Bateman-Scutari Bills Reforming Penalties for Certain Driving Offenses Clear Committee
TRENTON – On Thursday, a bill sponsored by Senators Kip Bateman and Nicholas Scutari to change or eliminate certain penalties for convictions of driving in an unsafe manner was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee.
The bill, S-661, clarifies when penalty points are to be assessed for convictions of driving in an unsafe manner. More specifically, it would revise the manner in which motor vehicle penalty points are imposed for violations. The bill would modify the current structure so that:
- Upon the third conviction for unsafe driving, penalty points would only be assessed only if this offense occurred within five years of the second conviction; and
- Upon a fourth or subsequent conviction, penalty points are only to be assessed only if the preceding conviction occurred less than five years prior.
The fine for a fourth or subsequent offense would also be $500.
“The time has come to take a closer look at our penalties for certain driving infractions, while still encouraging safe driving,” said Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union). “The laws we have on the books are often excessive in punishment, and disproportionately affect people of lower income. We need to give people more chances to make amends.”
Current law provides that a person convicted of a third or subsequent motor vehicle offense would be subject to the assessment of points. The fine for fourth or subsequent offenses is between $200 and $500. Current law also states that any vehicle registered in New Jersey must be covered by motor vehicle liability coverage.
The Senate also passed a second bill, S-662, which provides for reduction or elimination of a one-year suspension of a driver’s license for driving while uninsured if there was no vehicle accident or personal injury, or if the person provided satisfactory proof of insurance at the time of the hearing.
S-661 passed by a vote of 5-0. S-662 was approved by a vote of 4-0, with one abstaining. It next goes to the full Senate.