Recent reports have found that New Jersey courts are continuing to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in DWI surcharges as part of a law that was overturned long ago.
In 2014 a law was passed that added a $25 surcharge to drunk driving convictions in the State of New Jersey. The $25 fine was intended to be used by municipalities to pay for video equipment for police dash cams, but the program was shut down earlier this year by the Council on Local Mandates.
In the spring of 2016 the Council on Local Mandates - an organization designed to protect municipalities from laws that burden local taxpayers - determined the 2014 law to be an “unfunded mandate” because the $25 surcharge was not sufficient to pay for the expensive video equipment.
Despite the fact that the law was overturned in 2016, recent reports from New Jersey Radio station 101.5 FM found that local courts throughout the State of New Jersey are continuing to collect the $25 fee in DUI convictions.
It is unclear exactly how much money has been collected via the special DWI surcharge, but some estimate the amount to be between $500,000 - $1,000,000 dollars per year. Additionally, there is no evidence as to where the money collected from the DWI surcharge is being spent at the moment.
Drivers and lawyers throughout New Jersey are infuriated by the news, but Government officials are defending the collection of the $25 surcharge by arguing that the Council’s decision was only meant to apply to the dashcam provision.
“The surcharge provision, which was a different part of the law, was not declared to be an unfunded mandate, so it remains on the books and is still being enforced,” said Assistant Attorney General Stephan Finkel in a radio interview with New Jersey’s 101.5 FM.
However, the Council’s April 20th decision regarding the special DWI surcharge specifically stated “That the determination renders nugatory the $25 surcharge.”
To read the entire decision from the Council on April 20th, 2016, click here.
This controversial story is emerging just after New Jersey State Police Sergeant Marc Dennis was indicted on charges of second-degree official misconduct, third-degree tampering with public records and fourth-degree falsifying records in more than 20,000 DWI cases.
You can learn more about Marc Dennis' involvement in public records tampering by reading our recent blog post here.
At Levow DWI Law, P.C. we are committed to defending the rights of drivers throughout the State of New Jersey.
If you or a loved one are facing DWI charges in New Jersey then it is important for you to seek the legal aid of an experienced DWI defense attorney before proceeding with your case.
You can contact our team of award-winning lawyers today for a free consultation to learn about your legal options.
We have helped many drivers arrested on DWI charges to obtain favorable outcomes, such as reduced charges and lower penalties.