New Jersey takes intoxicated driving very seriously. A conviction on a DWI charge can result in serious sanctions in New Jersey, potentially including the suspension of your driver’s license. You must comply with your period of license suspension after a DWI conviction and not drive.
If you are caught operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, you face further serious consequences in New Jersey. Here, our New Jersey traffic violations attorney explains the key things that you should know about driving with a suspended license because of a DWI conviction.
An Overview of New Jersey Law On Suspended and Revoked Licenses
As background information, it is important to emphasize that New Jersey prohibits drivers from operating motor vehicles with a suspended license. Under NJ Rev. Stat. 39:3-40:
“No person to whom a driver’s license has been refused or whose driver’s license or reciprocity privilege has been suspended or revoked, or who has been prohibited from obtaining a driver’s license, shall personally operate a motor vehicle during the period of refusal, suspension, revocation, or prohibition.”
Anyone who violates New Jersey’s statute on driving with a suspended or revoked license will be subject to a $500 fine (first offense) or a $750 fine plus one to five days in jail (second offense). For a third offense, one could be looking at 10 days of jail time, 6 months of license suspension, and $1000 worth of fines.
That being said, not all driving with suspended license cases are treated the same way. The underlying reason for the driver’s license suspension/revocation is relevant. The penalties will be more severe if a DWI conviction was the reason for the suspension.
New Jersey Law for Driving with Suspended License Due to a DWI
In New Jersey, the statute for driving with a suspended license because of a DWI conviction can be found here at NJ Rev. Stat. § 2C:40-26. It holds that operating a motor vehicle during a period of license suspension due to a DWI conviction is a fourth-degree crime. The severity of the charge will depend, in part, on the specific circumstances of the case. Here is the language from the statute:
- Driving While Suspended for DWI (First Offense): “It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40, if the actor’s license was suspended or revoked for a first violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and the actor had previously been convicted of violating R.S.39:3-40 while under suspension for that first offense. A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment.”
- Driving While Suspended for DWI (Second or Subsequent Offenses): “It shall be a crime of the fourth degree to operate a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension in violation of R.S.39:3-40, if the actor’s license was suspended or revoked for a second or subsequent violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a). A person convicted of an offense under this subsection shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment.”
The punishment for a violation of New Jersey’s driving with a suspended license because of a DWI law is severe. It carries up to 18 months in state prison and NJ Rev Stat § 2C:40-26 (1)(c) holds that an individual “convicted of a crime under this section the sentence imposed shall include a fixed minimum sentence of not less than 180 days during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.” Beyond jail time, a driver who violates this section of New Jersey law could also face an even more prolonged suspension of their license.
The Takeaway: If your driving privileges were suspended as a result of a DWI conviction and you are caught driving during the suspension period, you can be charged with a fourth-degree criminal offense in New Jersey. It is imperative that you have an experienced attorney on your side.
Contact Our New Jersey Driving With a Suspended License Defense Lawyer Today
At the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, our Haddonfield criminal defense attorney, Matthew V. Portella, Esquire, has the professional skills and legal experience that you can trust. If you were charged with driving with a suspended license because of a DWI convicted, we are ready to help. Contact us today for a strictly confidential review of your case. With offices in Haddonfield and Pleasantville, we provide traffic violation and criminal defense representation throughout New Jersey.