July 16, 2012
NEW JERSEY MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT,
EUGENE S. PAK, PETITIONER-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted July 10, 2012
Before Judges Sabatino and Kennedy.
Appellant Eugene S. Pak seeks review of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission's April 21, 2011 final agency decision suspending his driver's license for ninety days. The suspension was imposed as the result of appellant's guilty plea and conviction in the Roselle Park Municipal Court for careless driving, an offense which he committed at a time when his driving privileges were in probationary status. The conviction stemmed from appellant causing two accidents on December 12, 2009, by first backing his car into another car and then leaving the scene and side-swiping another car in the process.
The record, including appellant's license abstract, reflects that appellant has a very poor driving history, with a lengthy series of motor vehicle violations. The present matter constitutes the eighth suspension of appellant's license (including basic driving and commercial) since 1997.
As a result of prior offenses, appellant's license had been placed on probationary status for one year, effective June 17, 2009. At that time, appellant was specifically warned in writing that if he violated any traffic laws during the one year probationary period, his license would be subject to another suspension. In spite of that warning, appellant indisputably violated the traffic laws again in Roselle Park in December 2009, less than six months into his probationary period. Consequently, the Commission suspended appellant's license for ninety days, following a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ") who had recommended the same disposition.
In his brief filed with this court, appellant variously argues that (1) the ALJ failed to apply a "good cause" standard in determining the licensure penalty and instead erroneously imposed the maximum period of suspension; (2) the Commission should have exercised discretion to waive the suspension, given appellant's need to drive to work; (3) the Commission applied the wrong standard for determining the period of suspension; (4) he was deprived of due process and adequate notice; (5) there is good cause to waive or shorten the suspension based upon alleged hardship; and (6) the present administrative system for imposing suspensions is arbitrary, capricious, and not based upon data or adequate reasons.
These arguments all lack merit and do not warrant specific comment in this written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D) and (E). It will suffice to say that the Commission acted properly in imposing the ninety-day suspension upon appellant, a probationary driver. That suspension is authorized by N.J.A.C. 13:19-10.6, which clearly states that when a subsequent motor vehicle violation occurs, as here, within six months of the date of a warning issued to a probationary driver, that repeat offense "shall, except for good cause, result in suspension of [that driver's] driving privileges for . . . 90 days." See also N.J.S.A. 39:5-30.10 (calling for a period of suspension of "no less than 45 days and no more than 90 days" for the commission of a first offense within a year after completing an approved driver improvement course).
Given this persistent offender's lengthy record of prior violations and suspensions, the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in determining that good cause was absent and in imposing a ninety-day suspension authorized by both statute and regulation. See In re Herrmann, 192 N.J. 19, 27-28 (2007) (noting the limited scope of appellate review of decisions by state administrative agencies); Campbell v. Dep't of Civil Serv., 39 N.J. 556, 562 (1963) (same).
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