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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

TIMOTHY W. WILLIAMS, Petitioner–Appellant, v. NEW JERSEY MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION, Respondent–Respondent.

DOCKET NO. A–2969–12T4

    Decided: March 14, 2014

Before Judges Parrillo and Guadagno.Timothy W. Williams, appellant pro se. John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lisa A. Puglisi, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel;  Elaine C. Schwartz, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Appellant Timothy W. Williams appeals from a final decision of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) suspending his driver's license for thirty days for driving during a period of indefinite suspension.   We affirm.

By notice dated October 16, 2012, the MVC advised appellant that his driving and registration privileges were being suspended indefinitely.   The suspension was based on appellant's failure to pay a judgment imposed by the Superior Court in the amount of $2,423.72 in favor of Selective Insurance Company of America, arising out of a vehicular accident occurring on September 16, 2001.

On November 8, 2012, appellant was involved in another automobile accident.   When that accident was reported to the MVC, the agency sent appellant a Scheduled Suspension notice dated December 12, 2012, advising appellant of the proposed 180–day suspension for “driving while suspended” in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3–40;  N.J.S.A. 39:5–30;  and N.J.A.C. 13:19–10.8. The notice of suspension, which was scheduled to take effect on January 6, 2013, was sent to appellant's address of record, the same address to which the earlier October 16, 2012 notice was mailed.   The notice informed appellant of the basis for the proposed suspension and of his right to request a hearing.

Appellant evidently received the December 12, 2012 notice and, by letter of December 20, 2012, promptly requested a hearing, arguing that, because he failed to receive the initial order of indefinite suspension, he was unaware that his driving privileges were suspended.   The letter recited:

I'm writing in reference to the suspending of my New Jersey Drivers License, as of January 6, 2013.   It is my understanding that the suspension is due to an accident I was involved in on November 8, 2012, while my Driving Privileges were supposedly already suspended [due] to a judgment placed upon me.   Motor Vehicle is suggesting that the suspension was issue[d] as of October 15, 2012.   I assure you, my fiancé nor I, who is also involved in the judgment had no idea that our license were suspended on October 15, 2012.   I'm requesting a hearing in regards to this matter!

The MVC denied appellant's request for a hearing because he did not raise any disputed fact or legal issue.   The MVC then reviewed appellant's entire driving history which, although replete with violations when appellant was younger, contained few violations in the years immediately prior to the driving while suspended violation.   The MVC considered these mitigating circumstances as well as the need for suspensions to be rehabilitative rather than punitive in nature, and consequently reduced the proposed period of suspension from 180 days to thirty days, effective March 14, 2013.

This appeal follows in which appellant challenges the suspension, arguing the agency's action is contrary to law and that the MVC was obligated to hold a hearing.   We find no merit to these contentions.

An evidentiary hearing is not required where there are no disputed issues of material fact, N.J. Division of Motor Vehicles v. Pepe, 379 N.J.Super. 411, 419 (App.Div.2005), and the law mandates that the MVC suspend or revoke a license without exercising any discretion, see N.J.S.A. 52:14B–11;  N.J.A.C. 13:19–1.13(c).  On this score, N.J.A.C. 13:19–1.2(d) provides that a hearing request must “specify all disputed material facts which the licensee or his or her attorney intends to raise at such hearing[,]” and also “set forth all legal issues” intended to be raised, as well as “all arguments on those issues which the licensee wishes the [MVC] to consider.”   A hearing request is denied for failure to comply with these requirements.  N.J.A.C. 13:19–1.2(e).

Here, appellant's hearing request contained neither disputed facts nor legal issues.   It is undisputed that appellant was driving a motor vehicle while his driving privileges were suspended.   As such, his further suspension was mandated by law.   Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:3–40, no person whose driver's license has been suspended “shall personally operate a motor vehicle during the period of ․ suspension․”  The law mandates an additional period of suspension for driving during a period of suspension.  N.J.A.C. 13:19–10.8 provides that when “the driving privileges of an individual have been suspended or revoked for any reason[ ]”:

1.  The operation of a motor vehicle by the individual during a period of suspension or revocation shall be cause for extending the period of revocation or suspension for an additional six months, or for some other period determined by the Chief Administrator.

[N.J.A.C. 13:19–10.8(a)(1) ].

Consequently, appellant's hearing request was devoid of any factual disputes or legal issues.   Instead, he simply says that he failed to receive the October 16, 2012 notice of initial suspension.   But even this contention lacks any claim of error in his address of record.   And, on this score, “due notice” under N.J.S.A. 39:5–30 means notice “reasonably calculated to reach the intended parties[,]” and affords the opportunity to resist the proposed suspension.  State v. Wenof, 102 N.J.Super. 370, 375–76 (Law Div.1968).   “Actual receipt of the notice is not a prerequisite[,]” rather, due process requires that the method used is “reasonably calculated to reach the intended parties.”  Ibid.;  see also State v. Kindler, 191 N.J.Super. 358, 361 (Law Div.1983).   Here, there is no claim that the MVC sent the notice to other than appellant's address of record.   Having provided appellant legally sufficient notice of the initial suspension, appellant has no legitimate cause to complain.

In sum, appellant provides no legal basis for challenging the MVC's denial of his hearing request, nor does he present any facts to be developed at such a hearing that would warrant a different determination.   On the contrary, appellant claims only that a suspension will be burdensome.   Yet, personal hardship does not overcome a regulatory-mandated suspension.   Simply put, the MVC's decision to suspend appellant's driving privileges for thirty days and to deny him an evidentiary hearing on undisputed facts and a legal mandate is neither arbitrary nor capricious and is supported by “substantial credible evidence in the record

․”  In re Heller, 73 N.J. 292, 309 (1977).



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