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Five Most Common Types of Driver’s License Suspensions


In New Jersey, a driver’s license can be suspended for many reasons. This article describes the five most common types of suspensions and how each may be lifted. To find out what type of suspension you have, call the MVC at (609) 292-7500 or call the court that ordered your license suspended. The article, Three Steps to Driver’s License Restoration, explains how to get more information, the difference between court-ordered suspensions and suspensions imposed by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), and how to complete the license restoration process once all your suspensions have been lifted.

  1. Suspensions for Driving-Related Violations

    If you are found guilty of violating a motor vehicle law, your license may be suspended either by a judge or by the MVC. You will find out that the MVC is going to suspend your license by way of a written notice sent to you. The notice will state that your license is scheduled to be suspended for certain reasons, such as accumulating too many points as a result of motor vehicle violations. The notice will also explain what you can do to avoid the suspension. For example, if you have accumulated too many points, in some cases you may attend a Driver Improvement Program to remove three points from your license and avoid the scheduled suspension. The MVC can provide more information about this program. If you wish to challenge the MVC’s decision to suspend your license, you may request a hearing in writing.

    If your license has been suspended because of driving-related violations, contact the MVC to ask how long the suspension will last and whether you owe any fines. Review the sections below to learn more about court-ordered penalties or MVC-imposed fines (also called insurance surcharges). Once you have waited the required amount of time and paid all fines, this type of suspension will be lifted.

  2. Suspensions for Unpaid Parking Tickets

    If you have two or more parking tickets, a suspension may be ordered by the municipal court where the tickets were issued. To lift this type of suspension, you must either appear in court and contest the tickets and have the court dismiss them, or pay the fines for the tickets. If you want to contest a ticket, follow the instructions on the ticket or call the municipal court that issued the ticket. If you ignore a parking ticket, a warrant will likely be issued for your arrest. If a warrant has been issued, you must turn yourself in to the court before you will be given a court date to contest the ticket. Please see the warning above before turning yourself in to the court.

    If you want to pay a ticket in full, you can do so by mail, in person at the court, or online at NJMCdirect. If you cannot pay the ticket in full, you should call the court and ask how to arrange a payment plan. Again, do not go in person unless you are sure no warrant has been issued for your arrest.

  3. Suspensions for Failure to Pay Insurance Surcharge

    The MVC can impose fines, called insurance surcharges, for some driving-related violations. Surcharges are imposed once per year for three years in a row. If you fail to pay surcharges, the MVC may suspend your license, although it is no longer a mandatory suspension under the 2019 law. Driving while suspended due to outstanding surcharges can result in an additional fine and suspension. You can find out whether you owe surcharges by entering your driver’s license number and date of birth in the search boxes on the MVC’s Surcharge Department web page or by calling the MVC Surcharge Department at (609) 292-7500.

    Surcharge-related suspensions can be lifted by (1) paying the surcharge in full, (2) paying a lower amount (“a negotiated payoff amount”), or (3) agreeing to a payment plan. Payments can be made online at; by visiting an MVC Regional Service Center; by charging by phone at 1-888-651-9999; or by mailing a check to

    New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, NJ-AISC
    P.O. Box 4850
    Trenton, NJ 08650

    There is no actual negotiation involved in a “negotiated payoff amount.” Instead, the Surcharge Department will mail you a lump-sum payment notice for an amount that is slightly less than the total due. If you cannot pay the negotiated payoff amount, you should call the Surcharge Department and request a payment plan. If the payment amounts in the plan offered by the MVC are too high, request lower payment amounts. Once a payment plan is agreed to and a down payment is made, your license will no longer be suspended. However, if you miss a payment, MVC will impose a new suspension and you will again owe the remaining unpaid surcharge amount. If you cannot pay the surcharges at all, you might consider contacting a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

  4. Suspensions for Failure to Carry Insurance

    If you are found guilty of driving without insurance, the court may order your license suspended and possibly impose a fine. This type of suspension is discretionary. Also, the MVC will impose an additional suspension. The MVC suspension may be lifted only after you (1) show proof of insurance or (2) turn in the registration and license plates of the uninsured vehicle. You must pay all fines and wait for the suspension period to pass before you will be eligible to begin the restoration process.

  5. Suspensions for Criminal Code Violations

    A suspension may be imposed as a penalty for conviction of some criminal offenses, whether or not a motor vehicle was involved. The length of the suspension will vary and can be found by reviewing the statute under which you were convicted. You can contact the Criminal Division Manager in the county where your sentencing took place to find out what statute you were convicted under.

    In cases of suspension, the period will begin when you are released from jail. The period of suspension is discretionary in cases of vehicle theft and false government documents. If the suspension is not mandatory, you may want to discuss your suspension with an attorney to determine if anything can be done to reduce the imposed suspension. Once you have waited the ordered amount of time, this type of suspension will be lifted.


    Arrest warrants may be issued for failure to appear in court, unpaid parking tickets, unpaid court-ordered penalties, or unpaid child support. To avoid being arrested, you should first call each court identified by the MVC to ask if a warrant has been issued. If you appear in person, there may be serious consequences, including arrest, incarceration, or an order that you pay bail. If you find out that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, try to get an attorney to represent you. When you appear in court, a judge has a duty to inform you about the public defender or municipal public defender. However, by that time it may be too late. It is best to contact an attorney before appearing in court. Each municipal court in New Jersey has a public defender. When you call the court about a possible warrant, ask for the name and phone number of the municipal public defender. You may have to pay a fee for municipal public defender representation. There is also a state public defender’s office, but that office only represents people accused of serious (indictable) crimes. For more information about the state public defender’s office, call (609) 292-7087 or visit their website.

How does the 2019 law change license suspensions?

Since February 2021, licenses can no longer be suspended for certain non-moving offenses. These include failure to appear in court, failure to pay municipal court-ordered penalties, violations of federal and state drug laws, failure to comply with an indigency installment order, abandoning vehicles without consent, or juvenile violations of false public alarms and graffiti.

While your license may no longer be suspended for failure to pay child support as of 2021, a warrant may still be issued for your arrest. If you have fallen six months or more behind on your child support payments, a warrant for your arrest may be ordered by the court. Please see the warning above. You should contact the Family Division of the court that ordered the suspension to get more information about the arrearages and the warrant.

There are also a number of license suspensions that are no longer mandatory such as for underage drinking, solid waste transportation offenses, parks and reservations offenses, and violations of prohibited gaming by minors. You can read more about the law at New Jersey Law Restricts the Use of Driver License Suspensions as Sanctions for Certain Crimes and Offenses.

In cases of driving-related violations, unpaid parking tickets, failure to carry insurance, and criminal code violations, the court must consider some factors when deciding to suspend a license: (1) the circumstances of the offense, (2) whether the loss of driving privileges will create extreme hardship, and (3) whether alternative means of transportation are readily available.

When can I drive again?

You must satisfy all the requirements imposed by the court and/or the MVC in order to lift all suspensions before you will be considered eligible to restore your license. Your driver’s license will not be restored automatically. In most cases, to fully restore your license, you will have to pay a $100 restoration fee at Restorations (from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission), retake any required tests, and get a new driver’s license from the MVC. You will be legally permitted to drive only after you have been issued a new driver’s license and a notice from the MVC stating that your driving privilege has been fully restored.

What if I need more help?

You can start by calling the MVC at (609) 292-7500 to learn what steps you need to take to restore your license. The MVC also offers a number of online services.

Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) provides free legal assistance to low-income people. If you need help or more information, you may contact LSNJLAWSM, LSNJ’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529) or apply for help online at If you are not eligible for assistance, the hotline will refer you to other possible resources.