D/L Suspension Sentencing Factors Established by App. Div – State v. Moran

[7/28/09 3:33 pm] In this morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Moran, the Court undertook a comprehensive review of the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:5-31. This statute permits a judge to revoke the driving privileges of a person who has been found guilty of a willful violation of any provision of Subtitle 1 of Title 39, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code. In upholding the constitutionality of the statute, the Court established a variety of aggravating and mitigating factors for judges to consider when determining whether to suspend a defendant’s driving privileges as a result of a willful violation and for how long.

These would include:, the nature and circumstances of the present offense and whether it was particularly egregious; any harm inflicted on others; the defendant’s driving record, considering how long the defendant has been a licensed driver and the seriousness, frequency, and timing of prior infractions; the likelihood of committing further motor vehicle violations; the need for deterrence; whether there were substantial grounds tending to excuse or justify the defendant’s conduct, though failing to establish a defense; whether this was the defendant’s first violation or whether he or she had gone for a substantial period of time without violations prior to the present offense; whether the defendant’s character and attitude indicate that he or she is unlikely to commit another motor vehicle violation (or at least a willful one); and the like. With respect to the length of the suspension, courts may also consider the length of suspensions authorized for specific offenses in the Motor Vehicle Code as a basis for comparison and proportionality. Against this backdrop, we consider the judge’s determination in this case to invoke the authority of N.J.S.A. 39:5-31. He did so based upon relevant considerations (the willful violation and defendant’s prior driving record).

Download a copy of State v. Moran.

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