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(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora to boost state revenue by establishing a motor vehicle surcharge amnesty program is now law.

Under the program, outstanding surcharges imposed under the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Violations Surcharge System could be satisfied with neither interest nor collection costs.

“The continuing global recession has hit the state budget hard, so any additional revenue we can find is of course unquestionably a good thing,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer). “But a program like this could also help many drivers, especially those with lower incomes, who simply cannot afford the fees and penalties that come with these motor vehicle surcharges. The state will never see that money unless we offer a program like this one.”

“A program like this is a common sense way for New Jersey to raise additional revenue when it’s sorely needed and for people buried by motor vehicle surcharges to dig themselves out of their debt,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “We know these programs can work, based on the successful tax amnesty program earlier this year that allowed us to boost property tax relief.”

According to estimates by the Motor Vehicle Commission, the surcharge amnesty period could bring in $17 million in uncollected funds to the state.

The amnesty program will apply only to those surcharges levied for accumulated motor vehicle points and those levied for motor vehicle violations or convictions for which points are not assessed.

It will not apply to surcharges levied against drivers convicted of drunk driving or failing to consent to a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content.

Further, any driver whose outstanding surcharges include any levies imposed for a drunk driving conviction or a refusal to submit to a blood alcohol content test will not be eligible to participate in this amnesty program.

During the eligibility period, a person who has an outstanding surcharge could pay that surcharge with neither interest nor collection costs being imposed, provided those outstanding surcharges are paid in full. Interest and collection costs could not be waived if the outstanding surcharges are not paid in full within the period of eligibility.

The law (A-4155) will impose a 5 percent penalty on outstanding eligible surcharges that are not satisfied during the amnesty period.

The bill was signed Saturday by acting Gov. Stephen Sweeney.

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