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Phase 1 of 5 Complete: New Jersey Supreme Court Dismisses 300,000 Old Municipal Court Cases

On May 21, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme court ordered the dismissal of roughly 300,000 minor municipal court cases in which a driver’s license suspension was ordered prior to January 1, 1994. These dismissals come as a part of an ongoing effort started in 2019 by the judiciary to identify and resolve cases that have been left pending for over 10 years. The cases dismissed this round involved license suspensions that are at least 27 years old and arose from minor outstanding matters such as parking violations, motor vehicle offenses, and penalty enforcement actions. As these cases were tossed out, any associated arrest warrants for failure to appear were recalled and any court ordered driver’s license suspensions were rescinded.

The first major set of dismissals ordered on January 17, 2019 involved 787,764 minor unresolved municipal court complaints in which an arrest warrant for failure to appear was issued before January 1, 2003. These orders fall in accordance with an administrative directive that advises the dismissal of outstanding complaints that are more than 10 years old. However, the 2019 dismissal order excluded pending minor cases that resulted in a license suspension. The Administrative Office of the Courts identified roughly 1.7 million minor municipal complaints that have been pending for over 10 years. Since dismissing this many complaints would be difficult to process all at the same time, they divided the cases into five groups that would be handled in phases. The recently completed Phase One included cases where a driver’s license suspension was ordered before January 1, 1994. We are waiting to see what the next four phases will entail, but we know that there are still many more cases that have been marked for potential dismissal.

The dismissals do not apply to more serious matters, like any indictable or disorderly persons offense, and the following motor vehicle charges:

  • Driving without a license
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while license suspended
  • Drugs in a motor vehicle
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical test
  • Failure to install interlock
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding in excess of 35mph over the posted limit
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury or property damage
  • Driving without insurance

Some cases not on this list still might be ineligible for dismissal. Before the dismissal order was signed on May 21, 2021, municipal prosecutors were given 45 days to review all the cases and object to dismissing any cases where they determined the dismissal would not be in the interest of justice. As a result of these objections, several dozen cases were removed from the proposed list.  Throughout all phases of dismissing these old cases, prosecutors will have a chance to object and get cases removed from the list.

For anyone whose license was suspended due to one of these recently dismissed cases, they will have to schedule an appointment with the Motor Vehicle Commission to fully restore their license. Here at the Law Offices of Eric B. Morrell, we are staying on top of these updates to get the best results for our clients. While many of these unresolved cases will be dismissed, there are still many more serious charges that will remain pending. If you have an old case and you want to know whether it has been dismissed or if you want to finally resolve a case that has been sitting for years, please reach out to our offices.


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