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Was driver in pedestrian mishap operating her vehicle in violation of multiple NJ Motor Vehicle Laws?

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2008 at 6:45 pm

It is being reported that the driver involved in last Sunday evening’s pedestrian/stroller accident, Elizabeth Searle, has resided on South Pleasant Avenue in Ridgewood since August of 2006. However, at the accident scene, Reverend Searle presented a NY State driver’s license to the investigating patrol officer, and was driving an automobile registered and insured to an address located in the State of NY.

In 2007, NJ governor Jon Corzine signed into law an amendment to NJSA 39:3-17.1 which requires that a person who becomes a resident of New Jersey and was permitted to operate a motor vehicle under a license granted from another State must register any vehicles owned by him that he operates on the highways of our State within 60 days. The statute as amended provides for fines on first and second offenses and mandatory impoundment for third or subsequent offenses. Presumably, the third offender impoundment would occur following a conviction for the offense in municipal court.

The amendment was enacted to put a stop to the problem created when people from other jurisdictions come to New Jersey and continue to operate their vehicles which are not registered in New Jersey.

A copy of the amended statute as underlined follows:

1. Section 1 of P.L.1955, c.53 (C.39:3-17.1) is amended to read as follows:

1. a. Except as provided in section 9 of P.L.1990, c.103 (C.39:3-10.17), any person who becomes a resident of this State and who immediately prior thereto was authorized to operate and drive a motor vehicle or motor vehicles in this State as a nonresident pursuant to R.S.39:3-15 and R.S.39:3-17, shall not lose his right to so operate and drive such motor vehicle or motor vehicles by becoming a resident of this State, but such right shall continue to be in full force and effect for 60 days, unless a longer period of reciprocity is otherwise provided by law, after the establishment of his residence in this State in the same manner and to the same extent as though he were a nonresident. The chief administrator shall not issue a driver’s license to a person who is entitled to operate a motor vehicle in this State under a reciprocity privilege granted by any law.

b. Any person who becomes a resident of this State and who immediately prior thereto was authorized to operate and drive a motor vehicle or motor vehicles in this State as a nonresident pursuant to R.S.39:3-15 and R.S.39:3-17, shall register any vehicle operated on the public highways of this State within 60 days of so becoming a resident of New Jersey, pursuant to R.S.39:3-4 or section 2 of P.L.1968, c.439 (C.39:3-8.1).

c. Any person who violates subsection b. of this section is subject to a fine of not more than $250 for a first offense and not more than $500 for a second or subsequent offense.

d. Any person who violates subsection b. of this section a third or subsequent time shall have the vehicle impounded by the law enforcing agency for not less than 96 hours. The vehicle shall only be released to the registered owner upon proof of registration and insurance and payment of all reasonable towing and storage fees.

If the owner of an impounded vehicle fails to claim the impounded vehicle by midnight of the 30th day following the day on which the vehicle was impounded, that vehicle may be sold at auction. Notice of the sale shall be given by the impounding entity by certified mail to the owner of the vehicle, if the owner’s name and address are known, and to the lienholder, if the lienholder’s name and address are known, and by publication in a form prescribed by the chief administrator by one insertion, at least five days before the date of the sale, in one or more newspapers published in this State and circulating in the municipality in which the vehicle is impounded.

At any time prior to the sale of an impounded vehicle, the owner or other person entitled to the vehicle may reclaim possession upon showing proof of registration and insurance and paying all costs associated with the impoundment, and reasonable towing and storage fees.

The owner-lessor of an impounded vehicle shall be entitled to reclaim possession without payment or proof of insurance and the lessee shall be liable for all outstanding costs associated with the impoundment, towing, and storage of the vehicle.

e. Any proceeds obtained from the sale of a vehicle at public auction pursuant to subsection d. of this section in excess of the amount owed to the impounding entity for the reasonable costs of towing and storage and any other costs associated with the impoundment of the vehicle shall be returned to the owner of that vehicle, if his name and address are known.

Was Reverend Searle issued a summons for violation of NJ 39:3-17.1, in addition to her violation of failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and has an investigation been started into possible insurance fraud on her part (i.e., was it cheaper to insure her car in NY instead of NJ)?

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  1. Has anyone mentioned the fact that Ms. Searle is an attorney in addition to being a minister? So she has no excuse to be ignorant of the law.

  2. is the ‘reverend’ a registered voter here? Law=One may have many places of abode, but one domicile. So technically..what determines residency? sleeping in a place for 181 days or more per year?

  3. My concern here is that the seriousness of the colliision is going to be downplayed in terms of charges being laid and potential penalties meted out. Why do I think this? Because the media article described the incident in a trivial way, with a description about a grazing and no hospitalization needed. The reality was a lot more serious. Now the media weren’t at the scene, but they got their story from the Ridgewood Police.

  4. My father owns a home in Saddle River and a home in Flordia. He lives in NJ from May to October and in Flordia from November to April. Is he a resident of Flordia or NJ? Is he required to have a Flordia license or a NJ license? What State must his car be registered in? And NO, you cannot have a drivers license in two States at the same time.

  5. 907 if your dad listens to his accountant, he would be advised to ‘declare’ FLA his domicle, register to vote there, and get a FLA driver license. If he is a ‘big earner’ who recently ‘migrated’ to FLA for tax purposes, he would probably be advised to be able to prove he was NOT in NJ for 181 days per year (the state is aggressively seeking those who buy homes in fla for tax purposes without selling NJ home..if he sold his NJ home he prob wouldnt be on their ‘radar screen’.) States try to require folks to register vehicles within their ‘new’ state if they are there for 60 days (NJ)..however the real ‘litmus test’ is if one is a resident, or gainfully employed. What about all the PA residents that go to the NJ shore for 60-120 days for the season? does NJ expect them to reregister their cars??? these stupid laws where written in a ‘simplier’ time. many of us bounce around between different states/homes.. so the key would be where one ‘declares’ their domicile. And I believe your dad should choose the one for his tax advantages, and act accordingly..so his ‘case’ cannot be questioned by some bureaucrat. The 181 day rule for NJ tax purposes should be the one he keeps copius records for in the event he is ‘challenged’..

  6. I don’t know the Reverend, but I would think that if any driver presented an Out of State license, registration etc., for a situation as serious as this one, they would have “alot of splainin’ to do”.

  7. Ah, trial by media, how common in the USA. It’s a shame that the barristers don’t have enough work in the court room to keep them busy.

  8. Oh, she’s a liar too … sorry, I meant a lawyer.

  9. She’s a liar alright. Just ask those who heard her little speech in church this morning. And she says she plans to contest the charge brought against her that she failed to yield in the crosswalk. She’s so sorry about what she did that she’s going to claim she didn’t do it. And this is from a spiritual leader.

  10. During commentary offered at Christ Episcopal Church’s 8:00 AM service this morning, Reverend Searle told her parishioners that she spends more time at her NYC apartment than she does at the Christ Church owned parsonage on South Pleasant Avenue. That is why, so she claims, she never bothered to obtain a NJ driver’s license, or register her automobile in NJ, despite having been appointed as Rector in August of 2006.

    In light of the Rector’s revelation concerning her preferred place of residence, why are Christ Church’s parishioners paying the mortgage on a property recently assessed at $597,100? If she doesn’t live there and doesn’t want to live there, why don’t we just sell it?

    Also, if our Rector is indeed away from NJ as much as she claims, doesn’t that make her relatively inaccessible in the event of a pastoral emergency (death, illness, etc.)? What does this all say about her commitment to our church and to the greater Ridgewood community?

    As noted by a previous poster, loads of explaining is now required on Ms. Searle’s part.

  11. I am a member of Rev. Searle’s church and this morning was the first I had heard of the accident. I was floored to learn that she spends most of her time in New York, that she considers New York her permanent home, and that New York is her residence (yes, she said it in this many ways, repeatedly). I have not had any need for her services due to a crisis or emergency, but I thought that a church leader was supposed to live locally in case a parishioner suddenly needed pastoral care. We (the church) have a home for her in Ridgewood. Why isn’t she living there?

  12. here fixed that fer ya…

    is the ‘lawyer’ a registered voter here? Law=One may have many places of abode, but one domicile. So technically..what determines residency? sleeping in a place for 181 days or more per year?

  13. To 1:07 PM

    I heard her speech this morning too (at the early service – not sure which service you went to). What part was the lie? My whole impression was that she said on the one hand she was so relieved that something worse did not happen and on the other hand that she would contest the ticket. Was the lie that she does not live in New Jersey? Clarify?

  14. The lie was that she spends all her time in NY. I think she spends most of her time in NJ but is now worried about legal difficulties.

  15. She was evidently unsussessfulin her first career as an attorney and now from what I see she is a mess in this career as a priest. Her parishioners should come on over to our church, which is right next door. We are a friendly group and our leader does not lash out at parishioners (per a conversation with one of you in your parking lot about a month ago).

  16. Is she a reverend like, say, Sharpton is a reverend?

  17. better go ‘axe’ reverend al..interestingling HE lived in Englewood NJ while promoting himself in NY…guess it goes with the territory and the ‘cloth’

  18. 9:04 –

    She is not a Priest.

  19. Rev. Searle is bringing the church so far down. I was a member for many years but now I go to church in Glen Rock. I could not take her, so unfriendly and unapproachable. Now this, just another problem that she is piling on top of an already struggling parish. She should resign now. Many of us would come right back if she did.

  20. Amen to that. The world does not need ANOTHER shady spiritual leader or priest or whatever she calls herself.

  21. Hopefully Ms. Searle will be held accountable for both her driving and her questionable behavior with regard to the law and her commitment to her parish. I would love to see Ridgewood learn from this. Pedestrians are given no respect in this town. The incidences of similar accidents have been piling up for years.I also would like to hear truth about her “victims” rather than having it downplayed. Ms. Searle is not the most important person in this incident.

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