Unfair DMV Surcharges in the State of New Jersey and Bankruptcy

The department of motor vehicles in New Jersey does not seem to have much compassion for people who are in debt and who are unable to pay their DMV surcharges. These surcharges are levied against people who have accumulated six or more points on their driver’s license and against people who have a DUI.

The Surcharge System – Adding Insult to Injury

For example, for accumulating six points, you will be subjected to the surcharge system and have to pay $150 dollars each year for the next three years – even though you have already paid your ticket costs! The cost for a DUI is an eye-popping $1,000 per year for the next three years. Adding insult to injury, your insurance will probably skyrocket, too.

Unfairly Harms Low Income Earners and Those in Debt

This bad habit of assessing added fines called surcharges has been called a redundant, excessive fine that disproportionately impacts low-income people. This is because if someone of low income or who is in serious debt cannot pay the surcharge, the state of New Jersey takes serious, harsh action against the debtor.

NJ Takes Away Driver’s Privileges for Nonpayment

The state will then take away the person’s driver’s privileges; in many cases, this means taking away the means by which a person does get to his or her job. The state will also add interest to the debt and they will take action in the State Superior Court to garnish a person’s wages or secure a lien against a person’s property. It is literally like legal highway robbery!

New Jersey’s Amnesty Program for Surcharge Payments

The challenge for the state of New Jersey is that it collects a significant amount of revenue thanks to fines or surcharges imposed on moving violations in the state.

The fines can amount to thousands upon thousands of dollars if left unpaid. People sometimes were unaware of surcharges imposed, but the state of New Jersey didn’t forgive the surcharges. In fact, they added interests and penalties.

In 2010 the situation got so bad with outstanding fines owed and those suffering from suspended licenses as a result that the state established a motor vehicle amnesty surcharge program. This allowed that outstanding surcharges that had been imposed through the Motor Vehicle Violations Surcharge System could be satisfied without interest or collection costs.

This amnesty for those who owe surcharges could bring in $17 million into the New Jersey state coffers.

Websites That Call for Abolishment of the Surcharge System

There are even websites that are calling for class action lawsuits to end the surcharge system entirely.

Bankruptcy Can Eliminate Most Surcharges in New Jersey

Bankruptcy protection can resolve debt, including DMV surcharges. If you have questions or concerns about how to find debt relief, consider speaking with an experienced attorney at the law firm of John Hargrave and Associates, in Barrington, New Jersey.

Contact an Experienced Debt-Relief Attorney

Speak with an experienced debt-relief attorney at the law firm of John Hagrave and Associates. Call for a free initial consultation. 856-547-6500. You may also contact us online to schedule your appointment.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. Our law firm focuses solely on helping people solve debt troubles and get back on the path to financial freedom.


  1. Cynthia Edwards says:

    Hello my name is Cynthia Edwards and I want to know if I’m eligible for this Amnesty program for NJ MVD. My license have been suspended for many years. I don’t even know how much debt I’m in because of my tickets and surcharges. I’m already filing a chapter seven lawsuit for my debts that I’m in. But I want to drive again but don’t know how to clear this debt up or where to start since it has been a very long time. I’ve suffered through 2 kinds of cancer and been through two types of chemotherapy. Now the buses and the walking everywhere is starting to bother me something awful. What can I do, where do I start.

    Thank you for listening,
    Warmly yours

    Cynthia Edwards – 1(973)818-6678

    • JHargraveAssoc says:

      If you are already filing Chapter 7 then as long as you include the NJ MV Commission as a creditor in your case the surcharges you owe will be cancelled and you will get your drivers license back with a month or two. There is an important exception to this statement. If your license is suspended because a judge imposed an suspension then you will not get your license back until your suspension is completed. You need to discuss this with your lawyer

  2. Justine Jimenez says:


    I have a nasty amount of surcharge fees on my license due to a non payment of 250 dollars.

    If possible please send me in the direction for more help. Thank You.


    • JHargraveAssoc says:

      You need to find a local lawyer that has experience with bankruptcy cases. If you provide me with your address I can recommend someone to you

  3. Thomas Cheatham says:

    I can’t pay my surcharge it’s to much it’s 7000 they want for me. Work slowed down. I can nearly pay my rent. I need my license. Thank you

    • JHargraveAssoc says:

      A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is the quickest way to make the surcharges go away. Find a lawyer near you that has experience doing bankruptcy cases. It does not mater if you no longer live in NJ. You can file a bankruptcy case in any state and get the MV surcharges cancelled. But you MUST include the NJ MV Commission as a creditor on your bankruptcy list of creditors.

  4. Erin Hartsgrove says:

    I got a refusal and am disabled- low income. Could I get amnesty? I could be better reached by text or phone at 732-900-66490.Thank you

    • JHargraveAssoc says:

      If your license is suspended because you refused to take a breath test, then a bankruptcy will not help you. You must serve out the court imposed suspension.

  5. Michael says:

    I have been paying surcharges for almost a decade.

    There is no getting out of them.

    DMV doesn’t actually enforce the surcharges they trust a 3rd party private organization to decide whether you are paid off or not.

    Every time I pay a surcharge I call them and ensure nothing else could possibly be surcharged.

    I have had <6 points for more than 3 years, now I have 1pt on my license and they continue to find a reason to surcharge me. I cant get out of this.

    There is always some extra term they add some other reason to continue surcharging. There is no checks an balances between the DMV and the private organization.

    I am so tired of paying these, I need to drive in order to work, I dont even enjoy driving anymore because all I do is pay surcharges year after year and I dont know how to get out of it.

    • JHargraveAssoc says:

      Hello Michael, I agree with you that the NJ MM Surcharges are unfair. But there is a way to get rid of them. That is by filing a bankruptcy case. Our Bankruptcy Courts have long taken the position that the NJ Motor Vehicle Surcharges can be wiped out in a bankruptcy case. This means that if your license is suspended only because you have not paid your surcharges then you will get your license back by paying a $100 re-instatement fee to NJ. If your license is suspended/revoked for failing to show up in court or failing to pay court fines or you were convicted of DUI/DWI then you have to resolve those issues before you get your license.

  6. William C Martin says:

    I lived in NJ 1968-1989 and I never heard of Surcharge, nevertheless they say I owe $11,172,82 for 2 or 4 traffic tickets in 1980’s and a 1994 DUI. That was a different day and different time. I am ready to go full scorched earth, U.S Justice Dept, U.S Senate and Congressional hearings.
    I’m looking for active Class Action Suits as Well ?

    • JHargraveAssoc says:

      Your anger about the NJ Motor Vehicle Surcharges is justified, I wish you luck in finding a lawyer to represent you in your battle with the State legislature.

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