New Law Requires Residents to Register Their Cars in N.J.

The governor has signed into law an amendment to NJSA 39:3-17.1 which requires that a person who becomes a resident of New Jersey and was permitted to operate a motor vehicle under a license granted from another State must register any vehicles owned by him that he operates on the highways of our State within 60 days. The statute as amended provides for fines on first and second offenses and mandatory impoundment for third or subsequent offenses. Presumably, the third offender impoundment would occur following a conviction for the offense in municipal court.

The amendment was enacted to put a stop to the problem created when people from other jurisdictions come to New Jersey and continue to operate their vehicles which are not registered in New Jersey.

A copy of the amended statute as underlined follows:

1. Section 1 of P.L.1955, c.53 (C.39:3-17.1) is amended to read as follows:

1. a. Except as provided in section 9 of P.L.1990, c.103 (C.39:3-10.17), any person who becomes a resident of this State and who immediately prior thereto was authorized to operate and drive a motor vehicle or motor vehicles in this State as a nonresident pursuant to R.S.39:3-15 and R.S.39:3-17, shall not lose his right to so operate and drive such motor vehicle or motor vehicles by becoming a resident of this State, but such right shall continue to be in full force and effect for 60 days, unless a longer period of reciprocity is otherwise provided by law, after the establishment of his residence in this State in the same manner and to the same extent as though he were a nonresident. The chief administrator shall not issue a driver’s license to a person who is entitled to operate a motor vehicle in this State under a reciprocity privilege granted by any law.

b. Any person who becomes a resident of this State and who immediately prior thereto was authorized to operate and drive a motor vehicle or motor vehicles in this State as a nonresident pursuant to R.S.39:3-15 and R.S.39:3-17, shall register any vehicle operated on the public highways of this State within 60 days of so becoming a resident of New Jersey, pursuant to R.S.39:3-4 or section 2 of P.L.1968, c.439 (C.39:3-8.1).

c. Any person who violates subsection b. of this section is subject to a fine of not more than $250 for a first offense and not more than $500 for a second or subsequent offense.

d. Any person who violates subsection b. of this section a third or subsequent time shall have the vehicle impounded by the law enforcing agency for not less than 96 hours. The vehicle shall only be released to the registered owner upon proof of registration and insurance and payment of all reasonable towing and storage fees.

If the owner of an impounded vehicle fails to claim the impounded vehicle by midnight of the 30th day following the day on which the vehicle was impounded, that vehicle may be sold at auction. Notice of the sale shall be given by the impounding entity by certified mail to the owner of the vehicle, if the owner’s name and address are known, and to the lienholder, if the lienholder’s name and address are known, and by publication in a form prescribed by the chief administrator by one insertion, at least five days before the date of the sale, in one or more newspapers published in this State and circulating in the municipality in which the vehicle is impounded.

At any time prior to the sale of an impounded vehicle, the owner or other person entitled to the vehicle may reclaim possession upon showing proof of registration and insurance and paying all costs associated with the impoundment, and reasonable towing and storage fees.

The owner-lessor of an impounded vehicle shall be entitled to reclaim possession without payment or proof of insurance and the lessee shall be liable for all outstanding costs associated with the impoundment, towing, and storage of the vehicle.

e. Any proceeds obtained from the sale of a vehicle at public auction pursuant to subsection d. of this section in excess of the amount owed to the impounding entity for the reasonable costs of towing and storage and any other costs associated with the impoundment of the vehicle shall be returned to the owner of that vehicle, if his name and address are known.

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