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State v. Wenof

Decided: July 17, 1968.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CARL WENOF, DEFENDANT



Heine, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).

Heine

Defendant appeals his conviction of violating R.S. 39:3-40, driving when his license had been suspended or revoked. The statute in pertinent part provides:

"No person * * * whose driver's license * * * has been suspended or revoked * * * shall personally operate a motor vehicle during the period of * * * suspension, revocation, or prohibition. * * *

A person violating any provision of this section shall be fined not less than $200.00 nor more than $1,000.00, or be imprisoned in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or both."

The facts are stipulated. On December 19, 1965 defendant was given a summons for speeding. He failed to appear or answer the summons. On May 20, 1966 the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles sent him written notice of proposed suspension of his driving privileges for failure to satisfy the summons. The notice was sent by ordinary mail addressed to defendant's address as listed by him in his application for driver's license. The notice indicated that the suspension was to be effective June 10, 1966 unless written evidence was furnished the Division of Motor Vehicles that the court summons had been satisfied. Defendant did not respond to the notice, whereupon the Director on July 22, 1966 sent him by ordinary mail addressed to the same address an order that his driver's license had been suspended. A copy of the order was sent to the local police department. The officer reported that he was unable to comply with the order to collect the driver's license certificate because defendant had moved and left no forwarding address.

On February 15, 1966 defendant was given a summons for speeding. He failed to appear or answer the summons. On September 1, 1966 the Director sent defendant written notice of proposed suspension of his driving privileges for failure to satisfy the summons. This notice was sent by ordinary mail to the same address. The suspension was to be effective September 22, 1966 unless the summons was previously satisfied. Defendant did not respond to this notice, whereupon the Director on October 20, 1966 sent him by ordinary mail addressed to the same address an order that his driver's license had been suspended. A copy of the order was sent to the local police department. On November 1, 1966 the local officer reported that he was unable to comply with the license collection order because the address proved to be a business address and defendant had moved

therefrom some six months ago. He had left no forwarding address with the postal authorities.

On June 2, 1967, while the above suspensions were still in force and effect, defendant was apprehended a third time for speeding. He was given a summons. A subsequent routine check by the police revealed that defendant was driving while still on the revoked list. A summons was then issued for the instant violation. His license still showed the same address.

Defendant denies receipt of any of the above notices relating to his suspensions. It is admitted that the notices were mailed but not received. He consequently contends that his driving privilege was suspended without due process and, he is therefore not guilty of the charge.

Preliminarily, it might appear that the reason assigned for reversal of the conviction constitutes a collateral attack upon the determination of the Director of Motor Vehicles that could only be made by direct review by the Appellate Division under the provisions of R.R. 4:88-8. Normally, attempts to question or collaterally attack prior decisions of an administrative agency are rejected by the courts except on grounds that the agency lacked jurisdiction over the subject-matter or the person. Maguire v. Van Meter, 121 N.J.L. 150 (E. & A. 1938); Clay v. Civil Service Commission, 89 N.J.L. 194 (E. & A. 1916); Miske v. Habay, 1 N.J. 368 (1949); Handlon v. Belleville, 4 N.J. 99, 107 (1950); 2 Am. Jur. 2 d 299, § 493; 30 A Am. Jur. 794, § 881. Since the determination of whether there was due ...


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