Is there a Hardship Exemption for Suspension of Driving Privileges?

The story

You plead guilty to two disorderly persons offenses involving drug paraphernalia, and failure to turn over a controlled dangerous substance. The tough part of the sentence is a six-month suspension of your NJ driving privileges. You will lose your job. Is there an exception to the rule?

How many of you said YES? You are absolutely right. Congratulations.

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16a provides for a hardship exception to the suspension of driving privileges. Here’s what the Appellate Division had to say about the application of the hardship exception in State v. Bendix, A-6508-05T3; opinion by Reisner, J.A.D.:

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16a, which provides for a hardship exception to the suspension of driving privileges, may be applied retroactively, and the lack of public transportation and its potential impact on a defendant’s employment are proper considerations.”

Commentary:

I love the hardship exception, or any statute or rule that allows a judge to exercise his discretion in imposing an appropriate sentence to fit the crime. I am not a black and white kind of person. I am much more comfortable bouncing around in the shades of gray.

The App. Div. made a wise decision in overturning the rulings below. Loss of your job, especially in this economy, should not be imposed for a minor disorderly persons offense. Ergo, long live the hardship exception. May it be applied wisely.

Is it malpractice for defense counsel in a municipal court matter not to raise the hardship exception when suspension of driving privileges are imposed?

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About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information and beating NYC parking tickets for the driving community

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