You should already realize that possession of a driver’s license is considered a privilege. With that in mind, license suspension is viewed as a punishment in select circumstances. However, your attorney may question the court’s ruling and request that a stay is put on suspending your license.
For starters, you may want to review the article we wrote on the various reasons your license can be suspended in New Jersey. Next, you may be confused how the term “stay” applies to the law. In short, a stay is a legal hold.
In this case, therefore, a stay means putting off your license suspension. However, the issue may be whether there are some conditions that need to be applied to the stay. In fact, that was the issue in a recent court case.
Stay of Suspension Pending Appeal
Most know that even the penalties for a first DWI (“Driving While Under the Influence”) offense include license suspension. Unless the case is heard involves personal injury, a Municipal Court judge orders the penalties in accordance with the law. (In matters where someone was injured or killed, the DWI case is referred to Superior Court.)
Here’s the bottom line. Customarily, if your attorney decides to appeal the judge’s decision, a request will be made to stay the sentencing. Of course, if incarceration is ordered, the goal is to keep you out of jail until you have exhausted all legal remedies. The same is true for license suspension.
A few months ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court dealt with a stay on a license suspension after a DWI conviction. Learn how the state’s top court ruled in State v. Robertson.
Standards for Stay of a Driver’s License suspension in a DWI case
First, let’s quickly review when the standards for stay are relevant as considered by the court in Robertson. Someone convicted in Municipal Court may request a trial de nova in Superior Court. Essentially, this is the appeal process and is a new trial in a higher court.
If the defendant is not happy with the outcome in Superior Court, the appeal process moves to the Appellate Division.
In both cases, a stay on sentencing is considered appropriate. This would include a stay on license suspension.
The Robertson matter invoked the preceding criteria. Notwithstanding, when the case came to the Appellate Division, it was “observed that that both of the lower courts stayed the license suspension pending appeal “without providing any statement of reasons.”
As a result, guidance was sought concerning the standards for a stay. In short, this is what the Supreme Court determined:
- It was presumed that DWI appeals suggested eligibility for a stay of license suspension
- Notwithstanding, safety should be a consideration in granting the stay
- The Court could order the stay with limitations (driving permitted for employment)
- Stay could include requirement for installation of ignition interlock device
Obviously, safety is an important issue. If the State can demonstrate that the stay of a license suspension could cause harm, this case sets up some alternatives.