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What Are the Consequences of a DWI Charge in New Jersey?


Do you lose your license right away if you’re charged with a DWI in New Jersey?

No. You will only lose your license if you’re convicted. From the time that you’re charged until the case is resolved, your driving privileges remain in good standing unless there is another reason that leads to their suspension.

Are DWIs bondable offenses? When are you going to be looking at getting out of jail after you’ve been arrested?

If you’re only charged with a DWI or you are refusing to give a breath sample, you will not be required to post bail because they are only traffic offenses. These are not crimes in New Jersey so you won’t have to post bail. The only time for the most part that you’ll have to post bail is if you’re charged with drunk driving as well as a criminal offense related to it.

Once you’re out of jail, when will you be going to court for your first appearance? How many times do you have to appear in court if you have an experienced attorney?

Usually, the court date for your first appearance comes very quickly. In some towns, it’s the next day; in other towns, it’s within a week; in still other towns, it’s within 30 days. It depends on the court. The first appearance is just for you to go in front of a judge, to let the judge know whether you’re hiring an attorney, and for the judge to advise you what you’re charged with and what the penalties are.

Generally speaking, the courts try to resolve drunk driving cases within 60 days of the date of the stop. I would be prepared, if you have an experienced attorney who knows how to handle the case both from an evidentiary standpoint – in other words, whether or not there is enough proof against you to convict you of drunk driving – as well as a procedural standpoint – which means making sure that the prosecutor in that town has provided all of the discovery to which you’re entitled so that you can make an intelligent decision as to whether or not to plead guilty – for about 2 or 3 court appearances. That depends on whether or not the prosecutor is doing his or her job in getting all the evidence to your attorney.

If you are convicted of DWI in New Jersey, what are the standard minimum penalties?

That’s a big one. For the first offense for an alcohol-related DWI where your blood alcohol concentration is between 0.08 and about 0.09, the penalties are generally approximately $800 in court and approximately $3,500 in surcharges and other costs from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. You’ll have to attend an intoxicated driver resource center for 12 hours for an alcohol evaluation. You could go to jail for up to 30 days, and you lose driving privileges for 3 months.

If it’s a first offense and you’re at a 0.10 blood alcohol concentration or higher, the fines could be up to $50 or so more and the loss of license is 7 months to 1 year. If your blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 percent or higher, you are required to put an ignition interlock device on the car that you own or principally operate for the term of your suspension and then for 6 additional months to 1 year after you get the license back.  The first offense with narcotics or habit-producing drugs is the same as if your readings were 0.10 or higher, and you also have to have the ignition interlock device.

The second and third offenses have more serious consequences. For the second conviction, the fines are a little bit more. There is a 2-year mandatory loss of license, 48 hours to 90 days in jail, 30 days of community service, and the requirement of the ignition interlock device. The third drunk driving offense involves a $1,000 fine, the intoxicated driver resource center, a 10-year loss of license, 180 days of mandatory jail time (90 days of which can be served in an approved alcohol and/or drug inpatient facility approved by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission), as well as the ignition interlock device.

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Does New Jersey offer any types of hardship or occupational licenses?

Unfortunately, no. In New Jersey, if your driving privileges are suspended for drunk driving or any other reason, you are not allowed to drive. That means no work licenses, no daytime licenses, and no hardship licenses. If you get caught driving on a suspended license after a drunk driving conviction, you can go to jail for a minimum of 10 days up to 90 days. In certain circumstances, that becomes a fourth degree felony where, if you’re convicted, you have to serve a mandatory 180 days in a jail or state prison.

What are some other factors besides driving without a license that might enhance or aggravate a DWI charge in New Jersey?

There are a lot of factors, such as whether or not you’re polite with the officer, your prior driving history, whether you placed other drivers at risk when you were driving (in other words, on a heavily populated or traffic leading road), whether there was an accident, whether somebody was injured, and whether you had a minor in your car. If you have a minor in your car and you’re driving while intoxicated, it’s a disorderly person’s offense. If there are other aggravating factors, it could be a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

If you’re involved in an accident and somebody is hurt, it becomes a felony aggravated assault. If somebody is killed, it becomes either a second degree death by auto or vehicular homicide or a first degree aggravated manslaughter. For those felony charges, there are mandatory state prison sentences. In addition, the higher your blood alcohol concentration, the more aggravated the factors could be.

Is there a certain threshold that enhances the aggravated charge?

No. If you’re double the legal limit or higher, certain judges may impose a longer loss of license.

How does New Jersey handle DWIs with BACs below 0.08?

You could still be convicted of DWI if your blood alcohol concentration was below 0.08.  If the alcohol or other narcotic or hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug in your system substantially affects your ability to operate your motor vehicle, then you could still be convicted based on your performance of the standardized field sobriety tests, your overall demeanor, and so forth.

For more information on DWI penalties in New Jersey, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (856) 861-6355 today.

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