Do You Lose Your License Immediately After a DWI/DUI?
If you are stopped for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey, you may be worried about whether you are at risk of losing your driver’s license.
The short answer to the question of “do you lose your license immediately after a DWI/DUI” is only if you are convicted of the charge. While the case is pending, your driving privileges will remain in good standing.
In December 2019, a new DWI law went into effect in New Jersey that limits driver’s license suspensions for certain first-time offenders. However, you still face additional penalties even if you do not lose your license, and you should seek assistance from an experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney as soon as you can.
Below is information about driver’s license suspensions following a DWI conviction.
Recent Changes to New Jersey Law for First-Time Offenders
If you are convicted of a DWI in New Jersey and you are a first-time offender, recent changes to New Jersey law could mean that you may not lose your driver’s license.
Under New Jersey law prior to the recent law taking effect, a first-offense DWI conviction with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or .09 percent would result in a driver’s license suspension for three months, and anyone convicted of a DWI with a BAC of 0.10 or higher would face a mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least 7 months and up to one year.
Recent changes to the law took effect on December 1, 2019. One of the primary changes of that law concerned the driver’s license suspension for certain first-time DWI convictions. Under the recent changes to the law, first-time offenders convicted of a DWI who have a BAC of less than 0.15 percent can avoid having their driver’s license suspended for an extended period of time.
However, all first-time offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device (a handheld breathalyzer) in their motor vehicle. When the law changed, N.J. Governor Phil Murphy explained that driver’s license suspensions are “an imperfect tool” for punishing drunk drivers because “offenders still need to get to work, and many people drive without licenses anyway,” according to an article in NorthJersey.com.
Second, Third, and Subsequent DWI Offenses and Driver’s License Suspensions
If you are convicted of a subsequent DWI offense—a second or third DWI, for example — you will mandatorily lose your driver’s license upon conviction. For a second offense conviction, you face a driver’s license suspension of 1 to 2 years. For a third or subsequent offense, you face a driver’s license suspension of 8 years.
Whether or not you lose your driver’s license with a DWI conviction in New Jersey, you should recognize that there are still serious consequences you can face. Even with a first-time offense, you can:
- Face a jail term of up to 30 days
- Will be required to pay a substantial amount of fines and surcharges
- Will be required to attend a program at an Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center
You will also have a DWI conviction on your record which can make it significantly more difficult to obtain certain forms of employment. As such, it is critical to have an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer on your side to help you fight the drunk driving charges you are facing.
Contact a New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyer
Do you need assistance fighting DWI charges in New Jersey? The experienced New Jersey DWI attorney, Matthew V. Portella, can assist you. Contact the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC today.