NJ looks at allowing drivers to pay off fines through community service

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(Street cleaning photo via ShutterStock)

Some New Jersey drivers may get the chance to work off their annual motor vehicle surcharges.

Assemblyman Charles Mainor said his bill would allow unemployed residents enrolled in an education or job-training program to perform community service instead of paying the accumulated fines.

“It’s just another alternative, rather than have someone owing and creating more fines and possibly of going into debt, it gives them a way out,” said Mainor, D-Hudson.

It would be better to have a judge look at the underlying traffic violations and determine who should be eligible, countered Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon.

“I think that prevents abuse of the program, and I think it also keeps the deterrent — the idea of having points and penalties in driving records so that people drive responsibly and not irresponsibly,” he said.

The surcharges and interest would be waived after completion of the community service project.

Another measure advanced by the Assembly’s Law and Public Safety Committee would create a restricted-use license for motorists who’ve had their driver’s license suspended or revoked for failing to pay annual motor vehicle surcharges.

The restricted license would allow driving to and from work, said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, R-Paterson.

“So that they can cover some of their fees and continue to contribute to society.”

Assemblyman Dave Rible voted against that measure.

“Anyone can fudge their work schedule to get on the road and persistent violator comes up all the time on these driver abstracts,” said Rible, R-Monmouth. “That means there’s a reason why they’re being suspended and a reason why they’re being taken off the road.”

Anyone convicted of drunken driving would not be eligible for the restricted license.

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