Many people know that DWI convictions often lead to jail time, community service, and fines. One penalty that some people fear is mandatory license suspension, but if you are a first-time DWI offender in New Jersey, a license suspension may not be required.
Not Every DWI Offender Faces A License Suspension
If you are a first-time DWI offender, and your blood alcohol content (BAC) level at the time of your arrest measured below 0.15%, you can install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle, and your license will not be suspended.
If the first-time offender’s BAC level was at or above 0.15% at the time of the arrest, the driver’s license is suspended from 4 to 6 months, and after the suspension, the period of mandatory IID use is 9 to 15 months. This chart may help you understand the penalties more clearly.
First-time offenders should clearly understand that if their BAC level exceeds 0.15% at the time of the arrest, or if the charge involves drugs other than alcohol (whether or not those drugs were illegal, prescribed, or over-the-counter), they will temporarily lose their driving privilege.
Repeat offenders will face longer license suspensions and longer periods of mandatory IID use. If you are convicted a second time for DWI within 10 years, your license will be suspended for a period of 1 to 2 years. If you are convicted a third time for DWI within 10 years of your second DWI, your license will be suspended for a period of 8 years.
You will have to pay a restoration fee in order to have your driving privileges restored after a license suspension.
What About Drug-Related DWI Charges?
You may not drive in New Jersey under the influence of any drug – whether that drug is illegal, prescribed, or over-the-counter – if the drug impairs you and you are unable to operate a vehicle safely. If the DWI charge against you is a drug-related DWI, a 7-to-12-month driver’s license suspension is mandatory upon conviction, you could serve up to 30 days in jail, and you’ll pay fines and surcharges surpassing $3,500. A second drug-related DWI conviction is punishable with 2 to 90 days in jail and a 2-year license suspension along with higher fines and surcharges.
Can I Get A Restricted License After A License Suspension?
Most states offer certain DWI or DUI offenders the chance to obtain a hardship or restricted license after a license suspension. A restricted license allows these offenders to operate a vehicle for specific reasons only, such as getting to and from work.
The State of New Jersey does not offer restricted licenses to DWI offenders. Instead, DWI offenders are ordered to have IIDs installed in their personal vehicles. For a first offense with a BAC level at or below 0.15%, IID installation prior to a conviction means the offender can entirely avoid a license suspension.
Commercial License Suspension After A DWI Arrest
Commercial drivers are held to higher standards in New Jersey and will face harsher penalties if they break the law by driving while intoxicated. If you are a commercial driver, federal law requires any CDL (commercial driver’s license) holder who is convicted of DWI, DUI, or refusing a breath test to surrender the CDL for a period of one year.
However, first-time offenders may face a 3-year CDL suspension if they were transporting hazardous materials at the time of their arrest.
If you hold a CDL and you are convicted of DWI for a second time, you will lose your commercial driving privileges for life. It doesn’t matter whether you were driving your own vehicle or a commercial vehicle at the time of your arrest. The permanent suspension of your commercial driver’s license is only one of the penalties you’ll face.
Commercial drivers need a commercial driver’s license in order to work, which means losing these driving privileges could force them to find new employment.
Discuss Your DWI Case With The Hernandez Law Firm Today
Are you facing DWI charges? Don’t give up without a fight. Contact Steven Hernandez at The Hernandez Law Firm to learn how our attorneys can help. To schedule a free consultation, call 732-286-2700 or fill out the contact form on this website.