Judges May Credit $200 on Unpaid Traffic Fines for Community Service

In an amendment signed into law on January 13, 2008, the legislature has provided municipal court judges with the authority to waive as much as $200 in unpaid traffic fines for indigent defendants. In exchange for the waiver, the indigent defendant would be required to perform community service, participate in any other program authorized by law or satisfy any other aspect of sentence. The $200 waiver is unavailable to indigent defendants who have been convicted of drunk driving or refusing to submit to a breath test. The amended statute reads as follows:

Indigent time Payments

1. Section 1 of P.L.1981, c.365 (C.39:4-203.1) is amended to read as follows:

1. Any defendant convicted of a traffic offense pursuant to Title 39 of the Revised Statutes or a parking offense, shall, upon a satisfactory showing of a condition of indigency or participation in a government-based income maintenance program, be permitted by the court to pay the fine in installments. The court shall set the amount and frequency of each installment. In addition, the court may waive an unpaid portion, up to $200, of any court-imposed time-payment order, as a result of a conviction for a motor vehicle traffic violation or a parking offense, except for a violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512, (C.39:4-50.4a), for a defendant who is indigent or is participating in a government-based income maintenance program and who has demonstrated an inability to comply with the time-payment order , and in lieu of the remaining unpaid amount , require the defendant to perform community service for a period of time to be determined by the court or participate in any program authorized by law, or satisfy any other aspect of a sentence imposed. For the purposes of this section, the guideline for the court to determine indigency is an income up to 250 percent of the poverty level, as defined in section 4 of P.L.2005, c.156 (C.30:4J-11).

(cf: P.L.1999, c.397, s.2)

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