New Jersey DWI is only a traffic violation. Why do I need an attorney?
Many people mistakenly believe that because DWI is considered a traffic violation and not a crime in New Jersey, they do not have to take the charges seriously. Unfortunately, not fighting the charges can lead to many unexpected and unnecessary consequences.
Let’s start by looking at the penalties those with DWI tend to expect. Depending on the number of previous DWI convictions someone has on his or her record, a DWI conviction can lead to:
- Three months to 10 years’ license suspension
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Fines from $3,755 to $6,055
Those charged with DWI can also face mandatory community service and 12-48 hours of mandatory Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) classes.
Other, less obvious DWI penalties
Yet, the above penalties are only the tip of the iceberg for this “traffic offense.” Being charged with DWI can also mean loss of your freedom (even when you are not in jail) and other significant liberties you have experienced to this point.
For example, everyone charged with DWI who had a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher or who was previously convicted of DWI must install an ignition interlock device on each of his or her vehicles, and the judge may choose to order this penalty on anyone else charged with DWI.
In order to drive a car, the alleged offender must blow into the ignition interlock device installed on the car and test negative for alcohol or he or she will not be able to start the engine. The length of time that a person must keep the ignition interlock device on his or her automobile depends on the penalty (6 months to one year for a first DUI offense, one to three years for a third DUI offense, etc.)
Another significant and often overlooked penalty that affects your driving ability is that insurance carriers often drop insurance for those convicted of DWI. You may have to apply under New Jersey’s Personal Auto Insurance Plan, which is a “high risk” and costly insurance plan.
Finally, you may face other consequences not controlled by traffic court, including:
- A civil lawsuit, if you injured anyone while driving drunk
- The cost of car repairs
- Job loss, especially if you are a driver by profession
- Dealing with the social stigma that attaches to drunk driving
- Points on your driving record
As you can see, you simply cannot compare the penalties of drunk driving to those for a speeding ticket or other, smaller traffic violation. That is why it is important to speak with an experienced DWI defense lawyer if you face DUI charges.
Learn more about the potential consequences of DWI by visiting our pages on DWI penalties and the impacts of DWI.