On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County, Municipal Appeal No. 17-05-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 15, 2011
Before Judges Payne and Reisner.
Defendant, Robert Jager, appeals from his conviction for driving without insurance in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2 and from his sentence, as a second-time offender, of fines and costs of $1539, two years' loss of license, thirty days of community service, and fourteen days in the Sussex County Jail. In his initial brief in support of his appeal, defendant raises the following issue:
THE COURT NEVER PROVIDED ANY DOCUMENTATION THAT APPELLANT WAS WITHOUT INSURANCE, THEREFORE APPELLANT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF NOT HAVING INSURANCE. FURTHERMORE, THE INSURANCE POLICY COULD NOT HAVE BEEN CANCELLED BECAUSE THE INSURANCE COMPANY, MISTAKENLY, THROUGH A MIXUP WITH THEIR AGENT, DID NOT HAVE THE CORRECT ADDRESS OF THE APPELLANT.
In his reply brief, defendant contends additionally:
I. The Court erred as there was no documentation that Appellant was without insurance, and he should not have been convicted. The law states that if there is no concrete evidence produced by the insurance company or no evidence of a notice of cancellation was mailed, then it is as if the driver is still insured.
II. Defendant's conviction should not be upheld because he produced evidence of a Fleet policy that was given to him by the insurance company and there was no evidence produced by the Court to the contrary.
III. The Lower Court's finding that the vehicle was without liability insurance was not valid because Appellant was not provided with Discovery stating that he did not have insurance.
The record of trial in the Municipal Court,*fn1 conducted on April 21, 2009, discloses that approximately two years earlier, on June 8, 2007, defendant attended court in Newton, New Jersey on an unrelated civil matter. Upon leaving the court complex, and while driving a red, two-door, 1992 Cadillac from the parking area, defendant was stopped by Sheriff's Officer Warren Slahor, who had been informed that there were outstanding warrants for defendant's arrest. By checking his mobile data terminal, the officer confirmed that the Cadillac was registered to defendant, and determined that defendant's license had been suspended. Evidence produced by the State at trial indicated that an order of suspension had been issued on May 6, 2007, and that it was mailed to defendant on May 11, 2007. Additionally, at the time of the stop, defendant was unable to provide evidence that the Cadillac was insured. Although defendant offered an insurance card, the officer determined that it did not cover the vehicle defendant was driving. Accordingly, Officer Slahor took defendant into custody on the outstanding warrants and issued tickets for driving on a suspended license, N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, failure to provide a valid insurance identification card on request, N.J.S.A. 39:3-29, and driving while uninsured, N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2.
In addition to the foregoing, the State produced evidence, consisting of a certified disposition, demonstrating that defendant had been convicted in the Sparta Municipal Court on April 28, 1975 of driving without liability insurance, and that the conviction had not been appealed.
In testimony at the municipal trial, defendant contested the charge of driving without insurance. In that regard, he produced a page of a declarations sheet for a business auto policy issued by National Continental Insurance Company listing liability and uninsured motorists coverage for seven covered autos. However, defendant did not produce the page that identified the covered vehicles. Additionally, defendant produced a letter allegedly sent by his girlfriend, Margaret Verhagen, dated February 16, 2007, that she had written to National Continental Insurance Company to request transfer of insurance on a "1986 White" to the 1992 Cadillac and also to request that any further correspondence be sent to defendant's residence address in Hicksville, New York.*fn2 Defendant also contended that he had never been notified that his insurance had been cancelled, and that any notice of cancellation had been misdirected to 36 Demarest Road in Sparta, the address listed on the declarations sheet produced by him at trial, whereas defendant's business was located at 36 Demarest Road in Lafayette, and his postal address was a post office box. Defendant claimed that the Sparta address did not exist and, to demonstrate that fact, he produced an envelope that he had sent to the Sparta address that had been returned by the Post Office with ...