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Estriplet v. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


April 15, 2009

NATASHA ESTRIPLET, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION, RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: March 25, 2009

Before Judges Axelrad and Lihotz.

Plaintiff, Natasha Estriplet, appeals from a final determination of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (Commission) suspending her New Jersey driving privileges for sixty days, which it stayed, for driving a motor vehicle while her privileges were suspended. We affirm.

Appellant possesses a valid New Jersey driver's license. On September 12, 2007, as a result of having defaulted on an installment order for the payment of fines in the Union Township Municipal Court, the Commission sent a notice entitled "Confirmation of Suspension by Court" to the address in Irvington that appellant had provided to the Commission on August l8, 2006, informing her that her driving privileges were suspended indefinitely pending payment of the fine and restoration fee.

On September l9, 2007, a similar notice was sent to appellant at the same address informing her that, in addition to other outstanding suspensions, her driving privileges were suspended for parking violations arising out of the Newark Municipal Court. This notice similarly provided, in pertinent part, that appellant's privileges could not be restored until she satisfied all outstanding fines, penalties, and restoration fees, and that she could not operate any motor vehicle until she received written notice of restoration from the Commission.

Nevertheless, on October 14, 2007, appellant operated a motor vehicle and incurred a speeding violation for which she was thereafter convicted. Consequently, on March 26, 2008, the Commission sent appellant a Scheduled Suspension Notice informing her that her driving privileges were going to be suspended beginning on April 20, 2008, for a period of l80 days. This notice was sent to appellant at a new address in East Orange that she had provided to the Commission around January 10, 2008. The basis of the suspension was the October l4, 2007 speeding violation that occurred while her driving privileges were administratively suspended.

On April 17, 2008, appellant sent a letter requesting a hearing to explain her reasons why her driver's license should not be suspended. On June 9, 2008, the Commission issued an Order of Suspension, informing appellant that because she failed to raise any disputed material facts or legal issues to be resolved at the hearing, her request for a hearing was denied. N.J.A.C. 13:19-1.2(d). The agency's final decision also informed appellant that it was undisputed she unlawfully operated a vehicle when her driving privileges were suspended, i.e., she was convicted of speeding on October 14, 2007 during the period of suspension that began on September 12, 2007 and ended on February 11, 2008, N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, N.J.S.A. 39:5-30 and N.J.A.C. 13:19-10.8, but that the period of suspension of her driving privileges would be reduced to sixty days.

Estriplet appealed. By letter of July l4, 2008, the Commissioner stayed the suspension pending our resolution.

Appellant claims she moved to Pennsylvania prior to her suspension and did not move back to New Jersey until January 2008, had a valid Pennsylvania license when she was stopped for speeding in October 2007, and was unaware her driving privileges had been suspended "for a [p]arking ticket and an old fine." Appellant, however, offers no proof of her Pennsylvania license, and neither makes an assertion that she provided an out-of-state address to the Commission nor that she was not receiving mail at the New Jersey address to which the notices were sent. Moreover, appellant was aware she entered into an installment plan for the payment of fines to the Union Township Municipal Court, and should have expected some action would be taken to enforce the agreement upon her default. Reasonably, notices would be sent to the address of record that appellant provided to the Commission.

We have a limited function in reviewing a proceeding involving suspension of a motorist's driving privileges; we do not interfere with the agency's exercise of discretion in the absence of abuse and sustain its decision when it is supported by substantial, credible evidence in the record as a whole. David v. Strelecki, 51 N.J. 563, 565, cert. denied, 393 U.S. 933, 89 S.Ct. 291, 21 L.Ed. 2d 269 (1968); Cresse v. Parsekian, 81 N.J. Super. 536, 548 (App. Div. 1963), aff'd, 43 N.J. 326 (1964).

Appellant's New Jersey driving privileges were suspended for sixty days because she was found to have driven a motor vehicle during a period of suspension of her driving privileges. Appellant provides no legal basis to challenge the Commission's decision to impose a suspension of her driving privileges, which is authorized by statute, N.J.S.A. 39:5-30, and supported by the undisputed evidence in the record. Moreover, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:19-10.8, the Commissioner was authorized to suspend appellant's driving privileges for an additional six months for operating a motor vehicle during a period of suspension; thus it cannot be said he acted arbitrarily in reducing the suspension from 180 days to sixty days.

Affirmed.

20090415

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