A new class action lawsuit seeks to end the automatic suspensions of driver’s license held by parents in New Jersey who are behind on child support payments. The lawsuit seeks to limit when suspensions would be allowed.
The suit filed last Friday claims that such suspensions are unconstitutional, contrary to the “clearly expressed legislative intent” and “obviously counter-productive.” It was filed in state Superior Court by David Perry Davis, a Pennington-based attorney, and names four plaintiffs who have had their licenses suspended.
The attorney that filed the lawsuit called the license suspensions “absurdly self-defeating,” noting that policy and statute can block parents from going to work, applying for jobs, or seeing their children.” “It doesn’t make sense. The idea that automatically suspending someone’s driver’s license because he is in arrears will force him to pay child support is an example of a well-intentioned, but not well thought-out law.”
The suit wants judges only to suspend a delinquent payer’s license only as a last resort, not as required punishment. “Judges should have this as an option, but only if the facts of a case justify it.”
The suit names Raymond Martinez, chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, state Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman and Director of the New Jersey Division of Family Development as defendants. A hearing on a preliminary injunction should be held in the next 10 days. In typical fashion, these ‘authorities’ refuse comment, noting they don’t publicly discuss ongoing litigation.
New Jersey is the only state in the country that imposes an immediate draconian penalty on motorists. According to Attorney Davis, most states suspend an average of 250 licenses annually, but nearly 20,500 licenses were suspended in New Jersey last year. Of the licenses in New Jersey, 99.5 percent of those licenses were suspended without a hearing being convened. That defies due process rights.