On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen.
Approved for Publication February 20, 1996.
Before Judges Stern and Newman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Stern, J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stern
The opinion of the court was delivered by STERN, J.A.D.
Defendant was charged in the Bergen County Special Civil Part with driving an uninsured motor vehicle, N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2, driving an unregistered vehicle, N.J.S.A. 39:3-4, and using fictitious license plates, N.J.S.A. 39:3-35. Defendant pled guilty to the license plate violation and was found guilty on the other two charges. Fines and fees were imposed, and defendant's driver's license was suspended for one year for driving an uninsured motor vehicle. Defendant appeals directly to us. No issue is raised concerning the direct appeal.
At about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of July 30, 1993 Officer Orem of the Bergen County Police Department responded to the scene of a motor vehicle accident on Route 46 in South Hackensack. The car defendant was driving, a two-door 1980 Chevrolet, with license plates FNG 30V, was involved in the accident. After inquiring if anyone at the scene was hurt, Officer Orem asked defendant for her driving credentials. Defendant produced a valid driver's license but was unable to produce the registration and insurance card. Officer Orem testified that defendant said "she did not have insurance." Officer Orem ran a "check" on the license plate and found that "the license plates themselves were expired as of 2/91, the second month of 1991, and the plates belonged on a different vehicle." Orem also testified that he found that the car that defendant was driving "was not registered."
Defendant testified on her own behalf. She indicated that the car was insured and registered at the time of the accident. She said that her son, Jimmy Carrero, owned the car and that they discussed the question of the license and registration the night before the accident. She further testified that Jimmy told her he was obtaining insurance on the morning of the accident. Defendant acknowledged that she did not have an insurance card or registration in her possession at the time of the accident but produced them at the trial.
The insurance card issued for the vehicle involved in the accident named James J. Carrero as the insured. The card indicated an effective date of "7-30-93," the date of the accident. Defendant also produced a vehicle registration for the automobile. The registration indicated that it was "GOOD THRU: 07/94."
Defendant also presented the declaration page of an insurance policy bearing the policy number noted on the insurance identification card. It indicated that Jimmy Carrero had two covered vehicles, not including the one in the accident, "from 06/07/93 to 12/07/93." Although not produced in the form of testimony, counsel advised the court of the following:
To assist the Court, my client's testimony would be that his--her son had two other vehicles that were -- were no longer in operation. He obtained a third vehicle. He was -- and he -- he added it to the existing policy. The policy numbers match up.
Defendant further testified that at the time of the accident she was en route to her son's place of employment, a Burger King restaurant, to get the papers for the vehicle that she thought he had there for the vehicle she was driving. She subsequently learned that the papers were at home "in the drawer, locked with a key."
On redirect, defendant testified that the car was insured and registered when she left home on the morning of July 30, 1993. She indicated on recross that she knew that because of the conversation she had with her son the night before and because "when I got up in the morning to go to work [on July 30] he was gone."
The "insurance identification card" for the vehicle (D1), the "vehicle registration" (D2), and the policy declaration face sheet (D3) were admitted into evidence. There was no ...