Amendment to NJ Motor Vehicle Law; More Penalties Added

Governor Corzine just signed an amendment to NJ motor vehicle law (N.J.S.A. 39:3-17.1). This law requires people who are now living or residing in New Jersey to register their vehicle with the State of NJ and get a NJ driver’s license within 60 days.

The new part of this law adds more penalties. A 3rd offense of this law (N.J.S.A. 39:3-17) requires that the vehicle be impounded. If the owner of the vehicle does not claim the vehicle within 30 days, then the vehicle will be sold at auction. If the vehicle is sold the towing and impoundment fees must be paid off first, before and funds are returned to the owner.

In my experience in practicing in NJ municipal courts, the most common offender of this statute (N.J.S.A. 39:3-17), are illegal immigrants. This is because illegal immigrants cannot obtain a NJ driver’s license.

Many NJ towns have a large immigrant population who are trying to make a living. In my former practice, in Vineland and Bridgeton, New Jersey there was a large Mexican immigrant population. Most of these people were hard workers looking for a better life. Many times they were pulled over for basic traffic violations, just like everyone else.

A few months ago, the NJ Attorney General announced a program to report all illegal immigrants to the federal authorities. Now, the NJ legislature, including the Governor, will be taking the vehicles away (and maybe their livelihoods) from these people because they cannot get a legal driving license due to their illegal status.

Do you think this is fair?