Under NJSA 39:3-10, all motorists on any New Jersey road or highway must be properly licensed to drive. The penalties for violating this statute are severe, and include a fine of up to $500, a six-month driver's license suspension, and the possibility of jail. I routinely defend those accused of driving without a license in Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, and Mercer counties.
NJSA 39:3-10 provides:
No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a public highway in this State unless the person is under supervision while participating in a behind-the-wheel driving course pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1977, c.25 (C.39:3-13.2a) or is in possession of a validated permit, or a provisional or basic driver's license issued to him in accordance with this article.
No person under 18 years of age shall be issued a basic license to drive motor vehicles, nor shall a person be issued a validated permit, including a validated examination permit, until he has passed a satisfactory examination and other requirements as to his ability as an operator. The examination shall include a test of the applicant's vision, his ability to understand traffic control devices, his knowledge of safe driving practices and of the effects that ingestion of alcohol or drugs has on a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle, his knowledge of such portions of the mechanism of motor vehicles as is necessary to insure the safe operation of a vehicle of the kind or kinds indicated by the applicant and of the laws and ordinary usages of the road. No person shall sit for an examination for any permit without exhibiting photo identification deemed acceptable by the commission, unless that person is a high school student participating in a course of driving education approved by the State Department of Education and conducted in a public, parochial or private school of this State, pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1950, c.127 (C.39:3-13.1). The commission may waive the written law knowledge examination for any person 18 years of age or older possessing a valid driver's license issued by any other state, the District of Columbia or the United States Territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. The commission shall be required to provide that person with a booklet that highlights those motor vehicle laws unique to New Jersey. A road test shall be required for a provisional license and serve as a demonstration of the applicant's ability to operate a vehicle of the class designated. No person shall sit for a road test unless that person exhibits photo identification deemed acceptable by the commission. A high school student who has completed a course of behind-the-wheel automobile driving education approved by the State Department of Education and conducted in a public, parochial or private school of this State, who has been issued a special learner's permit pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1950, c.127 (C.39:3-13.1) prior to January 1, 2003, shall not be required to exhibit photo identification in order to sit for a road test. The commission may waive the road test for any person 18 years of age or older possessing a valid driver's license issued by any other state, the District of Columbia or the United States Territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. The road test shall be given on public streets, where practicable and feasible, but may be preceded by an off-street screening process to assess basic skills. The commission shall approve locations for the road test which pose no more than a minimal risk of injury to the applicant, the examiner and other motorists. No new locations for the road test shall be approved unless the test can be given on public streets.
The commission shall issue a basic driver's license to operate a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle to a person over 18 years of age who previously has not been licensed to drive a motor vehicle in this State or another jurisdiction only if that person has: (1) operated a passenger automobile in compliance with the requirements of this title for not less than one year, not including any period of suspension or postponement, from the date of issuance of a provisional license pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1950, c.127 (C.39:3-13.4); (2) not been assessed more than two motor vehicle points; (3) not been convicted in the previous year for a violation of R.S.39:4-50, section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a), P.L.1992, c.189 (C.39:4-50.14), R.S.39:4-129, N.J.S.2C:11-5, subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:12-1, or any other motor vehicle-related violation the commission determines to be significant and applicable pursuant to regulation; and (4) passed an examination of his ability to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to this section.
The commission shall expand the driver's license examination by 20%. The additional questions to be added shall consist solely of questions developed in conjunction with the State Department of Health and Senior Services concerning the use of alcohol or drugs as related to highway safety. The commission shall develop in conjunction with the State Department of Health and Senior Services supplements to the driver's manual which shall include information necessary to answer any question on the driver's license examination concerning alcohol or drugs as related to highway safety.
Up to 20 questions may be added to the examination on subjects to be determined by the commission that are of particular relevance to youthful drivers, after consultation with the Director of the Office of Highway Traffic Safety.
The commission shall expand the driver's license examination to include a question asking whether the applicant is aware of the provisions of the "Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act," P.L.2008, c.50 (C.26:6-77 et al.) and the procedure for indicating on the driver's license the intention to make a donation of body organs or tissues pursuant to P.L.1978, c.181 (C.39:3-12.2).
Any person applying for a driver's license to operate a motor vehicle or motorized bicycle in this State shall surrender to the commission any current driver's license issued to him by another state or jurisdiction upon his receipt of a driver's license for this State. The commission shall refuse to issue a driver's license if the applicant fails to comply with this provision. An applicant for a permit or license who is less than 18 years of age, and who holds a permit or license for a passenger automobile issued by another state or country that is valid or has expired within a time period designated by the commission, shall be subject to the permit and license requirements and penalties applicable to State permit and license applicants who are of the same age; except that if the other state or country has permit or license standards substantially similar to those of this State, the credentials of the other state or country shall be acceptable.
The commission shall create classified licensing of drivers covering the following classifications:
a. Motorcycles, except that for the purposes of this section, motorcycle shall not include any three-wheeled motor vehicle equipped with a single cab with glazing enclosing the occupant, seats similar to those of a passenger vehicle or truck, seat belts and automotive steering.
b. Omnibuses as classified by R.S.39:3-10.1 and school buses classified under N.J.S.18A:39-1 et seq.
c. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1999, c.28).
d. All motor vehicles not included in classifications a. and b. A license issued pursuant to this classification d. shall be referred to as the "basic driver's license."
Every applicant for a license under classification b. shall be a holder of a basic driver's license. Any issuance of a license under classification b. shall be by endorsement on the basic driver's license.
A driver's license for motorcycles may be issued separately, but if issued to the holder of a basic driver's license, it shall be by endorsement on the basic driver's license.
The commission, upon payment of the lawful fee and after it or a person authorized by it has examined the applicant and is satisfied of the applicant's ability as an operator, may, in its discretion, issue a license to the applicant to drive a motor vehicle. The license shall authorize him to drive any registered vehicle, of the kind or kinds indicated, and shall expire, except as otherwise provided, on the last day of the 48th calendar month following the calendar month in which such license was issued.
The commission may, at its discretion and for good cause shown, issue licenses which shall expire on a date fixed by it. If the commission issues a license to a person who has demonstrated authorization to be present in the United States for a period of time shorter than the standard period of the license, the commission shall fix the expiration date of the license at a date based on the period in which the person is authorized to be present in the United States under federal immigration laws. The commission may renew such a license only if it is demonstrated that the person's continued presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. The fee for licenses with expiration dates fixed by the commission shall be fixed by the commission in amounts proportionately less or greater than the fee herein established.
The required fee for a license for the 48-month period shall be as follows:
Motorcycle license or endorsement: $ 18.
Omnibus or school bus endorsement: $ 18.
Basic driver's license: $ 18.
The commission shall waive the payment of fees for issuance of omnibus endorsements whenever an applicant establishes to the commission's satisfaction that said applicant will use the omnibus endorsement exclusively for operating omnibuses owned by a nonprofit organization duly incorporated under Title 15 or 16 of the Revised Statutes or Title 15A of the New Jersey Statutes.
The commission shall issue licenses for the following license period on and after the first day of the calendar month immediately preceding the commencement of such period, such licenses to be effective immediately.
All applications for renewals of licenses shall be made in a manner prescribed by the commission and in accordance with procedures established by it.
The commission in its discretion may refuse to grant a permit or license to drive motor vehicles to a person who is, in its estimation, not a proper person to be granted such a permit or license, but no defect of the applicant shall debar him from receiving a permit or license unless it can be shown by tests approved by the commission that the defect incapacitates him from safely operating a motor vehicle.
In addition to requiring an applicant for a driver's license to submit satisfactory proof of identity and age, the commission also shall require the applicant to provide, as a condition for obtaining a permit and license, satisfactory proof that the applicant's presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.
If the commission has reasonable cause to suspect that any document presented by an applicant as proof of identity, age or legal residency is altered, false or otherwise invalid, the commission shall refuse to grant the permit or license until such time as the document may be verified by the issuing agency to the commission's satisfaction.
A person violating this section shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $ 500 or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 60 days, but if that person has never been licensed to drive in this State or any other jurisdiction, he shall be subject to a fine of not less than $ 200 and, in addition, the court shall issue an order to the commission requiring the commission to refuse to issue a license to operate a motor vehicle to the person for a period of not less than 180 days. The penalties provided for by this paragraph shall not be applicable in cases where failure to have actual possession of the operator's license is due to an administrative or technical error by the commission.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter or extend the expiration of any license issued prior to the date this amendatory and supplementary act becomes operative.
Amended L. 1938, c. 66, § 3; 1953, c. 72; 1955, c. 8, § 5; 1955, c. 76, § 1; 1957, c. 108; 1964, c. 118; 1968, c. 130, § 2; 1977, c. 25, § 1; 1979, c. 97, § 1; 1979, c. 261, § 5; 1980, c. 105, § 7; 1981, c. 322, § 2; 1982, c. 45, § 1; 1983, c. 162; 1983, c. 163; 1983, c. 403, § 7; 1984, c. 33, § 2; 1985, c. 264, § 2; 1987, c. 20, § 1; 1988, c. 8, § 2; 1991, c. 452, § 7; 1992, c. 110, § 1; 1993, c. 34, § 1; 1998, c. 108, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; 1999, c. 28, § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2000; 2001, c. 391, § 2; 2001, c. 420, § 3, eff. Jan. 8, 2002; 2003, c. 13, § 37; 2008, c. 50, § 24, eff. July 22, 2008.
2008 amendment, by Chapter 50, in the sixth paragraph, substituted "the 'Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act,' P.L.2008, c.50 (C.26:6-77 et al.)" for "the 'Uniform Anatomical Gift Act,' P.L.1969, c.161 (C.26:6-57 et seq.)."
Section 13 of L. 1998, c. 108 provides: "This act shall take effect on January 1, 2001 and shall apply to any applicant for a special learner's permit who is under 16 years of age, or, in the case of an applicant for an examination permit, at least 17 years of age on the effective date of this act. Prior to the effective date, the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Transportation and the Director of the Office of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act." Chapter 108, L. 1998, was approved on September 17, 1998.
Section 19 of L. 1999, c. 28 provides: "This act shall take effect January 1, 2000, but the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Transportation may take such anticipatory administrative and regulatory action in advance as shall be necessary to implement the provisions of this act; provided, however, that section 14 of this act shall take effect immediately and, further provided, that for good cause, the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles may on January 1, 2000 delay implementation of the provisions of this act, other that those set forth in section 14, for a period not to extend beyond January 1, 2001." Chapter 28, L. 1999, was approved on February 25, 1999.
Section 18 of L. 2001, c. 391 provides: "This act shall take effect immediately, except that sections 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and the required fees for the 48-month license added to R.S. 39:3-10 by section 2 of this act shall remain inoperative until the 60th day after the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Transportation certifies to the Commissioner of Transportation that the division is prepared to issue drivers' licenses with digitized pictures of licensees, but such operative date shall be no later than January 1, 2003." Chapter 391, L. 2001, was approved on January 8, 2002.
Section 13 of L. 2001, c. 420 provides: "This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to any applicant for an initial special learner's permit or examination permit on or after the effective date of this act." Chapter 420, L. 2001, was approved on January 8, 2002.
Section 127 of L. 2003, c. 13 provides: "Sections 1, 2, 3, 12, 38, 109, 110 and 121 shall take effect immediately, sections 105, 106, 107, 108, and 120 shall take effect on July 1, 2003 and the remainder of this act shall take effect on the date the Commissioner of Transportation certifies to the Governor (hereinafter the 'date of certification') that a majority of the members of the commission have been appointed or are in office and that all necessary anticipatory actions have been accomplished, provided, that the amount of revenues received pursuant to sections 109 and 110 prior to the date of certification are hereby appropriated to the division. Upon the date of certification, all such collected revenue shall be revenue of the commission. The Commissioner of Transportation, the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles and the commission may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of the act." Chapter 13, L. 2003, was approved on January 28, 2003.
Some notable cases:
1. Evidence was sufficient to support a conviction where it showed that the inspector for the division of motor vehicles passed a person on the written examination who could not read or write English and only made a few scribbles, passed the same person on a vision test after he said A, B, C and nothing more, and signed that he administered a driving test to the person when he did not. State v. McKinlay, 98 N.J. Super. 280, 237 A.2d 274, 1967 N.J. Super. LEXIS 394 (App.Div. 1967), affirmed by 51 N.J. 25, 237 A.2d 264, 1968 N.J. LEXIS 135 (1968).
Criminal Law & Procedure > Criminal Offenses > Vehicular Crimes > Driving Under the Influence > General Overview
2. Defendant's contention on appeal of his conviction for driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:4-50(a), and also of driving without a license, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10, that there was a conflict of interest between him and a co-defendant, which made it improper for a single attorney to have represented them both, was rejected because the Supreme Court found no conflict between the two after counsel moved and was granted judgment for the codefendant on the ground that defendant was not guilty of operating the car and both codefendant and defendant then testified that codefendant was the driver; the Supreme Court held that defendants failed, not because they had one lawyer instead of two, but because the trial court believed the officers' testimony that defendant and codefendant switched at the wheel after they were stopped. State v. Smith, 59 N.J. 297, 282 A.2d 33, 1971 N.J. LEXIS 179 (1971).
3. Decision revoking defendant's driver's license after two convictions for driving under the influence was a reasonable and proper exercise of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicle's discretionary authority in light of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:4-50, which permitted such a revocation and N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10, which gave the commissioner such discretion. Hinnekens v. Magee, 135 N.J.L. 537, 53 A.2d 356, 1947 N.J. Super. LEXIS 378 (N.J. Super. Ct. 1947).
Criminal Law & Procedure > Double Jeopardy > Attachment Jeopardy
4. Where defendant charged with various driving violations under N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 39:4-50, 39:3-47, 39:3-40, 39:3-10, and 39:4-51a, consented to a municipal court trial on the sole issue of whether he was driving, double jeopardy protections attached to that municipal court decision in favor of the defendant, and the prosecutor's appeal under N.J. Ct. R. 3:24, treated as a pretrial ruling by the law division judge, was improper. State v. Cuneo, 275 N.J. Super. 16, 645 A.2d 151, 1994 N.J. Super. LEXIS 318 (App.Div. 1994).
Governments > State & Territorial Governments > Licenses
5. Motor-vehicles director was empowered to keep a license in suspension beyond the determinate period imposed by a municipal court; implicit in the pervasive power for the licensing and suspending of driving privileges was a right to keep a license in suspension until it was restored after appropriate application. State v. Zalta, 217 N.J. Super. 209, 525 A.2d 328, 1987 N.J. Super. LEXIS 1153 (App.Div. 1987).
Transportation Law > Commercial Vehicles > General Overview
6. Where defendant was charged as an unlicensed commercial driver under N.J. Stat. § 39:3-10, rather than charged with operating a commercial vehicle with a learner's permit without being accompanied by a licensed driver pursuant to N.J. Stat. § 39:3-10.18, all charges were dismissed; the correct charge was a different substantive offense and the issuing summons could not be amended. State v. Parkins, 263 N.J. Super. 423, 622 A.2d 1370, 1993 N.J. Super. LEXIS 130 (Law Div. 1993).
Transportation Law > Private Vehicles > Operator Licenses > General Overview
7. Evidence was sufficient to support a conviction where it showed that the inspector for the division of motor vehicles passed a person on the written examination who could not read or write English and only made a few scribbles, passed the same person on a vision test after he said A, B, C and nothing more, and signed that he administered a driving test to the person when he did not. State v. McKinlay, 98 N.J. Super. 280, 237 A.2d 274, 1967 N.J. Super. LEXIS 394 (App.Div. 1967), affirmed by 51 N.J. 25, 237 A.2d 264, 1968 N.J. LEXIS 135 (1968).
8. Under the authority granted by N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 39:3-10, 39:3-11 and 39:5-30, the director of the division of motor vehicles may require reexamination of current holders of a license and may impose reasonable special classifications based on age, accidents, violations or other suitable standards for the issuance of a driver's license. Bechler v. Parsekian, 36 N.J. 242, 176 A.2d 470, 1961 N.J. LEXIS 259 (1961).
9. Decision revoking defendant's driver's license after two convictions for driving under the influence was a reasonable and proper exercise of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicle's discretionary authority in light of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:4-50, which permitted such a revocation and N.J. Stat. Ann. § 39:3-10, which gave the commissioner such discretion. Hinnekens v. Magee, 135 N.J.L. 537, 53 A.2d 356, 1947 N.J. Super. LEXIS 378 (N.J. Super. Ct. 1947).