The full Senate has again cleared Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman’s measure to revise and clarify New Jersey’s unsafe driving point system and penalties.
“It is beyond time for the Assembly to adopt this balanced measure to provide a defined mechanism of penalty points relief to certain motorists in exchange for increased fines,” said Bateman (R-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). “There has been a lack of uniformity in understanding among practitioners, courts and the Motor Vehicle Commission as to when drivers are to be assessed driving points for multiple unsafe driving convictions. This inconsistency can be costly, as penalty points often cause auto insurance rates to increase at a much higher cost than fines.”
Senator Bateman’s S-82 clarifies that motorists convicted of violating current unsafe driving statute one or two times are subject to fines. Drivers convicted of a third offense within five years of a previous violation are subject to fines and four penalty points.
Under current law, it is unclear whether a third conviction, five years after a first conviction warrants points or whether a 4th conviction, seven years after a first conviction warrants points. This bill makes point forgiveness available to motorists convicted at least five years after a last conviction, not an initial conviction.
S-82 also increases the minimum fine on drivers with more than three unsafe driving offenses from $250 to $500.
Senator Bateman first introduced this initiative in 2008, and it was unanimously passed by the full Senate in May 2009. A Senate Democrat signed on as a sponsor last session, when it was also approved by the full Senate but died by Assembly inaction. The state Motor Vehicle Commission and the New Jersey Bar Association supported this bill last session.