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December 30, 2016

New Jersey sitting on $1 million in DUI fees collected under invalid law

Money comes from $25 fine intended to fund purchase of police dash cams

This is one of those only in Jersey stories:

A $25 fee tacked onto the fines levied with drunk driving convictions, intended to pay for video equipment in cop cars, was invalidated in April by New Jersey Council on Local Mandates.

The council determined last spring that the 2014 law was an invalid “unfunded mandate.” That’s Jersey-speak for a state law requiring local governments to spend money without fully funding the new regulation.

But, it being New Jersey, local courts are still collecting the $25 fee, reports New Jersey 101.5. The radio station estimates close to $1 million has been taken in by the fees imposed by courts.

Stephan Finkel, an assistant attorney general in the administration of Gov. Chris Christie, has argued that the local mandates council's ruling really applies to another portion of the law dealing just with dash cams. So the fee is still being collected with the blessings of the Christie administration.

But Jack Sweeney, chairman of the Council on Local Mandates, said Finkel is plain wrong in stating the council's finding and the law and the fee are both invalid. Sweeney also has questioned why the fees were never disbursed to local agencies as the law had required.

Lawmakers are pushing to have the issue resolved.

Meanwhile, New Jersey’s courts are collecting the money and declining comment, according New Jersey 101.5.

To read 101.5's account, click here.