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Ricciuti v. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission


May 13, 2009


On appeal from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

Per curiam.


Submitted March 30, 2009

Before Judges Reisner and Alvarez.

Alfred Ricciuti, Jr., appeals from a final decision of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, which suspended his driving privileges for ninety days. We affirm.

On March 1, 2008, Ricciuti was issued a two-point speeding violation. This violation brought his total motor vehicle penalty points to thirty-six, as a result of which he received a notice of a proposed 180-day suspension from the Motor Vehicle Commission. See N.J.S.A. 39:5-30.8.

Earlier, on November 30, 2007, Ricciuti had received a separate two-point violation for speeding and requested an administrative hearing. That matter was ultimately settled on July 10, 2008, and his proposed 150-day suspension was reduced to 15 days, commencing on July 17, 2008.

In May 2008, Ricciuti forwarded a letter to the Motor Vehicle Commission advising that he was awaiting a hearing date with the Office of Administrative Law as to the March 1, 2008 suspension. Ricciuti suggests on appeal that the letter reflected his confusion between the two separate suspension notices related to the two separate motor vehicle offenses, speeding on November 30, 2007, and speeding on March 1, 2008.

The Motor Vehicle Commission treated Ricciuti's May 2008 letter as a hearing request as to the March suspension. Because Ricciuti failed to raise any disputed material facts or legal issues in the letter, the Motor Vehicle Commission denied his request for a hearing pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:19-1.2(d). Nonetheless, they reduced his period of suspension from the proposed 180 days to 90 days.

Ricciuti now claims that he did not properly request a hearing on the second speeding violation and suspension because he assumed that his request for a hearing as to the November speeding violation would automatically include his March speeding violation. We do not agree that this purported confusion constitutes a basis to set aside the suspensions.

"An administrative agency's final quasi-judicial decision will be sustained unless there is a clear showing that it is arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, or that it lacks fair support in the record." In re Herrmann, 192 N.J. 19, 27-28 (2007) (citing Campbell v. Dep't of Civil Serv., 39 N.J. 556, 562 (1963)). As the Supreme Court noted in Herrmann, supra, 192 N.J. at 28, "[t]hree channels of inquiry inform the appellate review function." They are:

(1) whether the agency's action violates express or implied legislative policies, that is, did the agency follow the law; (2) whether the record contains substantial evidence to support the findings on which the agency based its action; and (3) whether in applying the legislative policies to the facts, the agency clearly erred in reaching a conclusion that could not reasonably have been made on a showing of the relevant factors. [Ibid. (quoting Mazza v. Bd. of Trs., 143 N.J. 22, 25 (1995)).]

"When an agency's decision meets [these] criteria, then a court owes substantial deference to the agency's expertise and superior knowledge of a particular field." Herrmann, supra, 192 N.J. at 28.

In support of his appeal, Ricciuti provides no law or fact other than his asserted confusion as to the hearings. He states, "I didn't realize I was supposed to request a separate hearing, or I would have done so." Unfortunately, that is not the equivalent of alleging that the agency's action was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, that it lacked fair support in the record, or that it was beyond the scope of the applicable legislation. The agency in fact adjudicated Ricciuti's appeal, concluding that he did not raise any issues requiring a hearing, but reducing the penalty. The decision of the Motor Vehicle Commission, therefore, is "supported by sufficient credible evidence on the record as a whole." R. 2:11-3(e(1)(D). Ricciuti's arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).



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