Long lasting consequences follow New Jersey DWI convictions
Cape May readers who have followed recent discussions about the consequences of a DWI conviction will know that it can have a long lasting impact on a person’s life. A conviction for driving while intoxicated can lead to license suspension, hefty fees and fines, surcharges of $1,000 per year for three years after conviction, jail time and potentially mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. DWI penalties increase for each conviction beyond the first and can impose serious restrictions upon a person’s freedom in addition to staggering financial consequences.
As stiff as they are, the penalties imposed by New Jersey drunk driving laws represent only one aspect of the lifelong ramifications of a drunk driving conviction. The mark that a conviction leaves on a person’s record and reputation can affect realms of life that transcend the reach of the criminal justice system.
For one 35-year-old Midwestern man, the fact that he was convicted twice for drunk driving has forced him to live with the burden of keeping part of his life a well-guarded secret. Even though his DWI convictions are now more than ten years old, he fears that he would be expelled from membership in a professional organization if knowledge of his record ever came to light.
Although the Midwestern man has changed his life and learned from his mistakes, he acknowledges that his past convictions force him to give up aspirations such as running for public office. He fears that the price he has already paid for his actions may have been just the beginning.
In New Jersey, unlike many other states, drunk driving is not a felony offense even after multiple convictions. Nonetheless, a DWI conviction can subject a person to unwritten restrictions on personal freedoms beyond the penalties set forth under the law. Acting quickly after a DWI arrest to seek counsel from an experienced drunk driving attorney can give a person a fighting chance to avoid long term adverse consequences.
Source: CNN, “Shhhhh … Some secrets you might need to keep,” Elizabeth Landau, Nov. 5, 2012