TRENTON – People would no longer risk having their driver’s licenses suspended for failure to pay parking tickets, though their car registrations could be if they rack up more than five or blow off more than five court appearances for those infractions, under a bill approved by the state Assembly.

The proposed change could result in savings for the nearly 100,000 people a year whose licenses are suspended over unpaid parking tickets and currently must pay $100 to have their license restored.

The bill, A1376, was passed Monday in a 70-5 vote, with Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, R-Morris, Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, R-Ocean, Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, R-Ocean, and Assemblyman Michael Torrissi, R-Atlantic, opposed.

The bill is back where it was in the legislative process in August 2020, when the Assembly passed an earlier version of the plan in a 76-1 vote. Dunn cast the only vote against it at that time. Gove, Peterson and Rumpf voted for it, and Torrissi wasn’t yet elected.

The Senate never took up the bill in the remaining 16 months of the past legislative session, so it died and needed to be reintroduced.

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Legislative analysts caution that the number of unpaid parking tickets could increase if the threat of a license suspension doesn’t loom over drivers. A 1990 state law began allowing license suspensions for unpaid parking tickets, and by 2004 the number of unpaid tickets shrunk from 4.4 million to 400,000.

A 2019 state law eliminated a requirement that driver’s licenses be suspended as a penalty for various offenses unrelated to driving, such as drug sales or warrants for unpaid child support. It’s now at the discretion of the judge.

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