Expungement of Traffic Offenses in New Jersey
Motor vehicle offenses, as they relate to expungements, require careful review. For starters, motor vehicle offenses defined in Title 39 of the New Jersey statutes cannot be expunged at all under present New Jersey law. Question 19 on our “FAQ” page discusses this bar in the context of DWI/DUI. But that is only the beginning.
As explained at Question 19, not all Title 39 offenses are motor vehicle offenses. Title 39 offenses defined as disorderly persons offenses, or as criminal offenses, can be expunged when all other requirements are satisfied. We provide an example of this at that same Question 19 location.
Parking tickets can be a huge headache when it comes to expungements. Some parking tickets are for Title 39 motor vehicle offenses. Tickets of that nature cannot be expunged. Title 39 parking tickets usually can be completely disregarded when it comes to seeking an expungement. Unless there was an actual taking into custody arrest in connection with a Title 39 traffic offense, those matters need not be even mentioned on a Petition for expungement of records.
Problems arise when the ticket was issued under a provision that is defined somewhere other than in Title 39 of New Jersey statutes. Typically these will be tickets that allege violation of a municipal ordinance. Overtime parking violations are typical examples. Another example is unauthorized parking in a handicap zone. Unless the Petitioner is also seeking expungment of a criminal conviction, municipal ordinance parking tickets can be readily expunged. The Petitioner will often not care whether matters of that nature are expunged. Unfortunately, simply ignoring such matters in the expungement process may not be an option.
Difficulties can arise because, when New Jersey State Police verify the expungement Petition, they find those ordinance violations, and flag them. Your better county prosecutors, when they review the State Police analysis, disregard flags of that nature. Other prosecutors, however, may object to the expungement being granted, on the ground that the Petition failed to recite all municipal ordinance charges. Prosecutorial objections on those grounds may result from an OCD. Other prosecutors will lack sufficient self-confidence to disagree with the State Police. In rare cases, the prosecutors are just mean. The problem is that objections of that nature, technically, are on firm ground. Thus expungement petitioners who disregard such matters up front risk complications down the road.
Out of State Traffic Offenses
Unless a New Jersey motor vehicle charge was classified as a crime or a disorderly persons offense, a conviction will seldom affect expungement eligibility. Motor vehicle convictions in states other than New Jersey, however, may affect eligibility. This problem can arise because offenses that New Jersey classifies as just motor vehicle offenses, other states sometimes classify under their criminal code. These will typically be your more serious motor vehicle offenses. Examples might be driving while intoxicated, refusing to give a breath sample, or driving while driving privileges were suspended. Those types of convictions, or arrests, will show up on a person's criminal history. Applications for expungement of New Jersey matters must deal with those out-of-state events when they exist.
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