As a licensed New Jersey vehicle dealer, your career hinges on your professional license. To ensure fair dealing and public safety, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has strict rules in place for how and where vehicle dealers can conduct business, and any alleged violation of these rules can put your license in danger. That's why, if your license is under investigation by the MVC, you need to take action right away and hire an experienced New Jersey licensed defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can evaluate the allegations against you, work with the MVC to protect your interests, and help guide you through all of the necessary steps in the disciplinary process.
Drawing on years of extensive experience in navigating disciplinary matters, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his licensed defense team understand the best strategies to attain a successful outcome for your case. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.
What Kinds of Allegations Could Put Your Vehicle Dealer License at Risk?
For the majority of cases, vehicle dealers can be stripped of their licensure due to allegations that they violated state regulations or codes of conduct, as well as other infractions against the public trust. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Fraudulent activity. This vast category encompasses all kinds of unethical tactics employed in an attempt to deceive the public or the Motor Vehicle Commission, including falsified advertising, price gouging, VIN number changes, and odometer tampering.
- Failing to keep records or ledgers at the licensed location. With vehicle dealers in New Jersey, specific locations are licensed for vehicle sales, not just the person. State inspectors may show up unannounced to check your records. If these records aren't on-site or are otherwise dubious, it could lead to disciplinary action.
- Selling in unauthorized locations. In tandem with the previous point, if you attempt to sell vehicles in a location other than your licensed dealership, you could face a loss of license.
- Unlawful use of dealer plates. If you misuse dealer plates for unauthorized purposes, such as commercial or hire vehicles, your license could be permanently revoked.
How the Disciplinary Process Works in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the disciplinary process against vehicle dealers is usually triggered by one of two things: when someone files a formal complaint against you with the MVC or when a state inspector reports violations of state rules. From this point, your case may proceed through any/all of the following stages.
Request for Response
Depending on the nature of the violation, you may be asked by the MVC to submit a formal written response, providing any evidence you have to refute the complaint or defend against the allegations. By presenting a compelling response, you may be able to get the matter dropped without further action.
Opportunity to Remediate
For relatively minor violations that can be resolved, the MVC may give you the opportunity to fix the problem before proceeding further against you, opting to take action only if you fail to resolve the issue.
If the violation is not immediately obvious, the MVC may investigate the matter further to determine if a violation indeed took place. This may include interviewing complainants and witnesses, checking your books, requesting documentation, etc.
If violations are found, the MVC may offer to have you sign a consent order. In this legally binding agreement, you acknowledge the violations committed and voluntarily submit to recommended sanctions and disciplinary actions. While a consent order precluded more formal proceedings, you shouldn't sign one without the advice of an attorney--although sometimes, a consent order can be negotiated to include more lenient terms.
If you dispute the alleged violations and/or do not sign a consent order, you may be summoned to a formal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) where you and your attorney can present evidence to refute the complaint(s) against you. The MVC will also present its case. The ALJ will then make a ruling for or against you, along with any recommended disciplinary actions.
How an Attorney Can Help
Navigating the disciplinary process in New Jersey can be an intimidating task--and rightly so, because in these matters, you're not guaranteed a presumption of innocence. The MVC strictly regulates dealers in the state, and it has broad authority to impose discipline based only on a preponderance of the evidence. A licensed defense attorney with experience in dealing with the MVC can help you understand your legal rights and best protect them throughout the proceedings. They can review every aspect of your case to ensure accuracy, represent you at formal hearings, negotiate settlements and consent orders, advise on corrective action plans, and even file an appeal of a final decision if necessary. In many cases, an attorney's intervention can help resolve the matter before it escalates into formal proceedings.
Don't wait for the MVC to take action against you--if your vehicle dealer license is under investigation in New Jersey, consult a licensed professional defense attorney today. They can help protect your rights and get you through the disciplinary process as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to your business. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team are prepared to fight for you, taking all steps necessary to protect your license and safeguard the future of your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.